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Bethesda, Maryland 


•" Book Binder, | 
513 1th Street, N. W. ! 



JOSEPH PRIESTLEY, l. l. d. f. r. s. & c . 


3£r» Slogeplj # riegtiep, 

TO THE YEAR 1795, 

tvRirrEX sr himself: 

With a continuation, to the time of his decease, 


by Thomas Cooper, President Judge of the 

4th. district of Pennsylvania : and the 

Rev. William Christie. 



District of Pe?msyhania, to w// .' 

BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the twenty-eighth of 
December in the thirtieth year of the Independence of the 
United States of America, A. D. 1805, Joseph Priestley, of 
the said district, hath deposited in this Office the Title of 
a Book, the right whereof he claims as Proprietor, in the 
words following, to wit : 

"Memoirs of Dr. Joseph Priestley, to the year 1795, 
« written by himself, with a continuation, to the time of 
" his decease, by his Son Joseph Priestley, and observati- 
" ons on his writings, by Thomas Cooper, President Judge 
" of the 4th district of Pennsylvania, and the Rev. William 
« Christie." 

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United 
States, intitled " An Act for the encouragement of learning 
by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books to the au- 
thors and proprietors of such copies during the times there- 
in mentioned." And also to the Act entitled " An Act sup- 
plementary to an Act entitled " An Act for the encourage- 
ment of learning by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and 
Books to the authors and proprietors of such copies during 
the times therein mentioned." And extending the benefits 
thereof to the Arts of designing, engraving, and etching, 
historical and other prints. 


Clerk of the District 
of Pennsylvania. 




PREFACE, - - - page i 

Memoirs with Notes, - 1 

Continuation of the Memoirs, - - 129 

Appendix No. I. An Account of Dr. Priest- 
ley's Discoveries in Chemistry, 
and of his writings on that, and 
other Scientific subjects, - 223 

No. 2. An Account of his Metaphy- 
sical writings, - - 294 


iVlY father, Dr. Priestley, having taken the trou- 
ble of writing down the principal occurrences of his 
life, to the period of his arrival in this country, that 
account is now presented to the public in the state in 
which he left it, one or two trifling alterations ex- 
cepted. The simple unaffected manner in which it 
is written, will be deemed, I have no doubt, far more 
interesting, than if the narrative itself had been made 
the text of a more laboured composition. 

Independent of the desire, so universal among 
mankind, to know somewhat of the private as well as 
the public history of those who have made them- 
selves eminent among their fellow citizens, the life 
of my father is likely to be more useful as well as 
more interesting than those of the generality ol lite- 
rary men ; not only as it is an account of great in- 
dustry combined with great abilities, successfully 
exerted for the extension of human improvement, 
but because it affords a striking proof of the value 



of rational Christianity, adopted upon mature reflec- 
tion and practiced with habitual perseverance. 

Few men have had to struggle for so many years 
with circumstances more straitened and precarious 
than my father ; few men have ventured to attack so 
many or such inveterate prejudices respecting the 
prevalent religion of his country, or have advanced 
bolder or more important opinions in opposition to 
the courtly politics of the powers that be ; few have 
had to encounter more able opponents in his literary 
career, or have been exposed to such incessant and 
vindictive obloquy, from men of every description, 
in return for his unremitting exertions in the cause of 
truth ; yet none have more uniformly proceeded 
with a single eye, regardless of consequences, to act 
as his conviction impelled him, and his conscience 
dictated. His conduct brought with it its own re- 
ward, reputation and respect from the most eminent 
ol his contemporaries, the affectionate attachment of 
most valuable friends, and a cheerfulness of disposi- 
tion arising in part from conscious rectitude which 
no misfortunes could long repress. But to me it 
seems, that conscious rectitude alone would hardlv, 
of itself, have been able to support him under some 



of the afflictions he was doomed to bear. He had a 
farther resource, to him never failing and invaluable, 
a firm persuasion of the benevolence of the Almigh- 
ty towards all his creatures, and the conviction that 
every part of his own life, like every part of the whole 
system, was preordained for the best upon the whole 
of existence. Had he entertained the gloomy noti- 
ons of Calvinism in which he was brought up, this 
cheering source of contentment and resignation 
would probably have failed him, and irritation and 
despondency would have gained an unhappy ascend- 
ancy. But by him the deity was not regarded as an 
avenging tyrant, punishing, for the sake of punishing 
his weak and imperfect creatures, but as a wise and 
kind parent, inflicting those corrections only that 
are necessary to bring our dispositions to the proper 
temper, and to fit us for the highest state of happiness 
of which our natures are ultimately capable. 

With these views of the present and the future, it 
is no wonder that he submitted with perfect resigna- 
tion to the inevitable vicissitudes of human life, and 
looked forward to futurity, as a period of existence 
when his capacity for receiving happiness would be 
greater because his capacity for communicating it 

would be enlarged. 




My father's narrative closing with his arrival in 
this country, where he has done so much for the pro- 
motion of useful knowledge of all kinds, I have corn- 
pleated the account of his life from that period to the 
termination of it. The Notes have been added to 
the narrative as desireable illustrations of the passa- 
ges to w.iieh they refer. 

I have likewise thought it proper to add a review 
of my father's literary labours, in order to give the 
reader a knowledge of his opinions on many impor- 
tant subjects, likewise, of the share in the increase of 
human knowledge, which may be justly ascribed to 
his exertions. The Appendices giving an account of 
his Chemical, Philosophical, Metaphysical, Political 
and Miscellaneous writings, as well as the Summary 
ol his religious opinions, are written by my friend 
Judge Cooper, formerly of Manchester in England. 
For the Appendix containing an analysis of my fa- 
ther's Theological writings, I am indebted to the 
Rev. W. Christie, formerly of Montrose in Scot* 

The work might have been made more interestinff 
as well as entertaining, had I deemed myself at liber- 
ty to have published letters addressed to my father 



by persons of eminence in this country, as well as in 
Europe. But those communications that were in- 
tended to be private, shall re main so ; as I do not 
think I have a right to amuse the public either against, 
or without, the inclinations of those who confided 
their correspondence to his care. 

I regret, that more of the present work is not the 
production of my father's pen ; and I hope the reader 
will make allowance for the imperfection of that por- 
tion of it, for which I have made myself responsible, 

Northumberland, Pennsylvania, 
May 1st, 1805. 





XTAVINB thought it right to leave behind me 
some account of my friends and benefactors, it Is in 
^ manner necessary that I also give some account of 
myself-, and as the like has been done by many per- 
sons, and for reasons which posterity has approved, 
I make no farther apology for following their exam- 
ple. If my writings in general have been useful to 
my cotemporaries, I hope that this account of my- 
self will not be without its use to those who may 
come after me, and especially in promoting virtue 
and piety, which I hope I may say it has been my 
care to practice myself, as it has been my business to 
inculcate them upon others. 

A W 

2 Memoirs of 

My father, Jonas Priestley, was the youngest son 
of Joseph Priestley, a maker and dresser of woollen 
cloth. His first wife, my mother, was the only child 
of Joseph Swift, a farmer at Shafton, a village about 
six miles south east of Wakefield. By this wife he 
had six children, four sons and two daughters. I, 
the oldest, was born on the thirteenth of March, old 
style 1733, at Fieldhead about six miles south 
west of Leeds in Yorkshire. My mother dying in 
in 1740, my father married again in 1745, and by 
his second wife had three daughters. 

My mother having children so fast, I was veiy 
soon committed to the care of her father, and with 
him I continued with little interruption till my mo- 
ther's death, 

It is but little that I can recollect of my mother. 
I remember, however, fat she was careful to teach 
me the Assembly's Catechism, and to give me the 
best instructions the little time that I was at home. 
Once in particular, when I was playing with a pin, 
she asked me where I got it ; and on telling her 
that I found it at my uncle's, who lived very near to 
my father, and where I had been playing with my 
cousins, she made me carry it back again ; no 


Dr. Priestley. $ 

doubt to impress my mind, as it could not fail to do, 
with a clear idea of the distinction of property* and 
of the importance of attending to it She died in 
the hard winter of 1739, not long after being deli- 
vered of my youngest brother ; and having dreamed 
a little before her death that she was in a delightful 
place, which she particularly described, and imagin. 
ed to be heaven, the last words she spake, as my 
aunt informed me, were "Let me go to that fine 
"place*" • 

On the death of my mother I was taken home, 
my brothers taking my place, and was sent to school 
in the neighbourhood. But being without a mo- 
ther, and my father incumbered with a large family, 
a sister of my fathers, in the year 1742, relieved him 
of all care of me, by taking me entirely to herself, 
and considering me as her child, having none of her 
own. From this time she was truly a parent to me 
till her death in 1764. 

My aunt was married to a Mr. Keighly, a man 
who had distinguished himself for his zeal for religi- 
on and for his public spirit. He was also a man of con- 
siderable property, and dying soon after I went to them, 
left the greatest part of his fortune to my aunt for 

A 2 life, 

4 Memoirs of 

life, and much of it at her disposal alter her 

By this truly pious and excellent woman, who 
knew no other use of wealth, or of talents of any 
kind, than to do good, and who never spared herself 
for this purpose, I was sent to several schools in the 
neighbourhood, especially to a large free school, un- 
der the care of a clergyman, Mr. Hague, under 
whom, at the age of twelve or fifteen, I first began to 
make any progress in the Latin Tongue, and ac- 
quired the elements of Greek. But about the same 
time that I began to learn Greek at this public 
school, I learned Hebrew on holidays of the dissent- 
ing minister of the place, Mr Kirkby, and upon the 
removal of Mr. Hague from the free school, Mr. 
Kirkby opening a school of his own, I was wholly 
under his care. With this instruction 1 had acquir- 
ed a pretty good knowledge of the learned languag- 
es at the age of sixteen. But from this time Mr. 
Kirkby's increasing infirmities obliged him to relin- 
quish his school, and beginning to be of a weakly 
consumptive habit, so that it was not thought ad- 
viseable to send me to any other place of education, 
I was left to conduct my studies as well as I could 


Dr. Priestley. 5 

till I went to the academy at Daventry in the year 

From the time I discovered any fondness for books 
my aunt entertained hopes of my being a minister, 
and I readily entered into her views. But my ill 
health obliged me to turn my thoughts another way, 
and with a view to trade, I learned the modern Ian. 
guages, French, Italian, and High Dutch without a 
master ; and in the first and last of them I translat- 
ed, and wrote letters, for an uncle of mine who was a 
merchant, and who intended to put me into a counts V 
ing house in Lisbon. A house was actually engaged 
to receive me there, and every thing was nearly ready 
for my undertaking the voyage. But getting better 
health my former destination for the ministry was 
resumed, and I was sent to Daventry, to study un- 
der Mr. Ashworth, afterwards Dr. Ashworth. 

Looking back, as I often do, upon this period of 
my Hfe, I see the greatest reason to be thankful to 
God for the pious care of my parents and friends, in 
giving me religious instruction. My mother was a 
woman of exemplary piety, and my father also had a 
strong sense of religion, praying with his family 
morning and evening, and carefully teaching his chil- 

• A & drei* 

6 Memoirs op 

dren and servants the Assembly's Catechism, which 
was all the system of which he had any knowledge. 
In the latter part of his life he became very fond of 
Mr. Whitheld's writings, and other works of a simi- 
lar kind, havipg been brought up in the principles of 
Calvinism, and adopting them, but without ever giv- 
ing much attention to matters of speculation, and en> 
tertaining no bigotted aversion to those who differed 
from him on the subject. 

The same was the case with my excellent aunt, 
she was truly Culvinistic in principle, but was far 
from confining salvation to those who thought as 
she did on religious subjects. Being left in good 
circumstances, her home was the resort of all the 
dissenting ministers in the neighbourhood without 
distinction, and those who were the most obnoxious 
on account of their heresy were almost as welcome to 
hat, if she thought them honest and good men, 
(which she was not unwilling to do) as any others. 

The most heretical ministers in the neighbourhood 
were Mr. Graham of Halifax, and Mr. Walker of 
Leeds, but they were frequently my Aunt's guests. 
With the former of these my intimacy grew with my 
years, but chiefly after I became a preacher. We 


Dr. Priestley. 7 

kept up a correspondence to the last, thinking alike 
on most subjects. To him I dedicated my Disqui- 
sitions on Matter and Spirit, and when he died, he 
left me his manuscripts, his Polyglot bible, and 
two hundred pounds. Besides being a rational 
christian, he was an excellent classical scholar, and 
wrote Latin with great facility and elegance. He 
frequently wrote to me in that language. 

Thus I was brought up with sentiments of piety, 
but without bigotry, and having from my earliest 
years given much attention to the subject of religi- 
on, I was as much confirmed as I well could be 
in the principles of Calvinism, all the books that 
came in my way having that tendency. 

The weakness of my constitution, which often 
led me to hink that I should not be longlivsed, con- 
tributed to give my mind a still more serious turn , 
and having read many books of experiences, and in 
consequence believing that a new birth produced by 
the immediate agency of the Spirit of God, was ne- 
cessary to salvation, and not being able to satisfy 
myself that I had experienced any thing of the kind, 
I felt occasionally such distress of mind as it is not 
in my power to describe, and which I still look back 

A 4 upon 

8 Memoirs op 

upon with horror. Notwithstanding I had nothing 
very material to reproach myself with, I often con- 
cluded diat God had forsaken me, and that mine was 


like the case of Francis Spira, to whom, as he ima- 
gined, repentance and salvation were denied. In 
that state of mind I remember reading the account 
of the man in the iron cage in the Pilgrim's Progress 
with the greatest perturbation. 

I imagine that even these conflicts of mind were 
not without their use, as they led me to think habi- 
tually of God and a future state. And though my 
feelings were then, no doubt, too full of terror, 
what remained of them was a deep reverence for di- 
vine -things, and in time a pleasing satisfaction 
which can never be effaced, and I hope, w 7 as strength- 
ened as I have advanced in life, and acquired more 
rational notions of religion. The remembrance, 
however, of what I sometimes felt in that state of 
ignorance and darkness gives me a peculiar sense of 
the value of rational principles of religion, and of 
which I can give but an imperfect description to 

As truth, we cannot doubt, must have an advan- 
tage over error, we may conclude that the want of 


Dr. Priestley. 

these neculiar feelings is compensated by something 
of greater value, which arises to others from always 
having seen things in a just and pleasing light ; from 
having always considered the Supreme Being as the 
kind parent of all his oflspring. This, however, not 
having been my case, I cannot be so good a judge 
of the effects of it. At all events, we ought always 
to inculcate just views of things, assuring ourselves 
that proper feelings and right conduct will be the con- 
sequence of them. 

In the latter part of the interval between my leav* 
ing the grammar school and going to the academy, 
which was something more than two years, I attend- 
ed two days in the week upon Mr. Haggerstone, a 
dissenting minister in the neighbourhood, who had 
been educated under Mr. Maclaurin. Of him I 
learned Geometry, Algebra and various branches of 
Mathematics, theoretical and practical. And at the 
same time I read, but with little assistance from him, 
Gravesend's Elements of Natural Philosophy, Watt'sx 
Logic, Locke's Essay on the Human Understand- 
ing, &c, and made such a proficiency in other branch- 
es of learning, that when I was admitted at the aca- 
demy (which was on Coward's foundation) I was ex- 

10 Memoirs of 

cused all the studies of the first year, and a great 
part of those of the second. 

In the same interval I spent the latter part of eve- 
ry week with Mr. Thomas, a baptist minister now 
of Bristol but then of Gildersome, a village about 
four miles from Leeds, who had had no learned edu- 
cation. Him I instructed in Hebrew, and by that 
means made myself a considerable proficient in that 
language. At the same time I learned Chaldee and 
Syriac, and just began to read Arabic. Upon the 
whole, going to the academy later than is usual, and 
being thereby better furnished, I was qualified to ap- 
pear there with greater advantage. 

Before I went from home I was very desirous of 
being admitted a communicant in the congregati- 
on which I had always, attended, and the old minis- 
ter, as well as my Aunt, were as desirous of it as 
myself, but the elders of the Church, who had the 
government of it, refused me, because, when they 
interrogated me on the subject of the sin of Adam, 
I appeared not to be quite orthodox, not thinking 
that all the human race (supposing them not to have 
any sin of their own) were liable to the wrath of 
God, and the pains of hell for ever, on account of 


D*. PlUESTLEY. 11 

that sin only ; for such was the question that was put 
to me. Some time before, having then no doubt of 
the truth of the doctrine, I well remember being 
much distressed that I could not feel a proper repen- 
tance for the sin of Adam ; taking it for granted that 
without this it could not be forgiven me. Mr. Hag- 
gerstone above mentioned, was a little more liberal 
than the members of the congregation in which I was 
brought up, being what is called a Baxterian ;* 


• BAXTERIANS, The famous Non-conformist Richard Baxter 
who flourished about the middle of the last Century, attempted a Coa- 
lition between the doctrines of Calvin and Arminius. The former 
of these held that God from the beginning- had elected a few of the 
human race to be saved, without reference to their good actions in 
this life, and had left the rest of mankind in a state of final and inevi- 
table reprobation. The latter was of opinion that the Christian dis- 
pensation fiunished the means of final Salvation to all men, though 
the merits of the death of Christ would be ultimately advantageous to 
believers only. Baxter, thought with Calvin that some among mankind 
were from the beginning elected unto eternal life, and gifted from 
above with the saving grace necessary in the first instance to the seve- 
ral steps of a believer's christian character ; but he thought also with 
Arminius that all men had common^ grace imparted to them, sufficient 
ip enable them if they chose, to attain unto final Salvation by using the 
Weans ordained by Christ and his Apostles. Calvin also held the fi> 

12 Memoirs of 

and his general conversation had a liberal turn, and 
such as tended to undermine my prejudices. But 
what contributed to open my eyes still more was the 
conversation of a Mr. Walker, from Ashton under 
line, who preached as a candidate when our old mi- 
nister was superannuated. He was an avowed Bax- 
terian, and being rejected on that account his opini- 
ons were much canvassed, and he being a guest at 
the house of my Aunt, we soon became very inti- 
mate, and I thought I saw much of reason in his 
sentiments. Thinking farther on these subjects, I 
was, before I went to the academy, an Arminian , 
but had by no means rejected the doctrine of the tri- 
nity, or that of atonement. 
Though after I saw reason to change my opinions 

I found 

n;J perseverance of the Saints, or as it has since been expressed that a 
believer might fall foully but not finally, whereas Baxter seems to have 
Ihbught that not every one who had saving grace imparted to hire 
would persevere to the end, or as the Arminian Methodists quaintly 
express it, he held that a believer may fall both foully and finally. The 
compromising doctrine of Baxter may be seen in his very learned and 
unintelligible work entitled Catholick Theology. He used to be an 
annual communicant in the Church cf England by way of exemplying 
Ms accommodating opinidns-> T. C. 

Dr. Priestley; 13 

I found myself incommoded by the rigour of the 
congregation with which I was connected, I shall al- 
ways acknowledge with great gratitude that I owe 
much to it. The business of religion was effectual- 
ly attended to in it. We were all catechized in pub- 
lic 'till we were grown up, servants as well as o- 
thers : the minister always expounded the scriptures 
with as much regularity as he preached, and there 
was hardly a day in the week, in which there was 
not some meeting of one or other part of the congre- 
gation, On one evening there was a meeting of the 
young men for conversation and prayer. This I con- 
stantly attended, praying extempore with others 
when called upon. 
At my Aunt's there was a monthly meeting of wo- 
men, who acquitted themselves in prayer as well as 
any of the men belonging to the congregation. Be-, 
ing at first a child in the family, I was permitted to 
attend their meetings, and growing up insensibly, 
heard them after I was capable of judging. My 
Aunt after the death of her husband, prayed every 
morning and evening in her family, until I was about 
seventeen, when that duty devolved upon me. 
The Lord's day was kept with peculiar strictness. 


14 Memoirs or 

No victuals were dressed on that day in any family. 
No member of it was permitted to walk out for re- 
creation, but the whole of the day was spent at the 
public meeting, or at home in reading, meditati- 
on, and prayer, in the family or the closet. 

It was my custom at that time to recollect as much 
as I could of the sermons I heard, and to commit it 
to writing. This practice I began very early, and- 
continued it until I was able from the heads of a dis- 
course to supply the rest myself. For not trou- 
bling myself to commit to memory much of the am- 
plification, and writing at home almost as much as 
I had heard, I insensibly acquired a habit of compo- 
sing with great readiness ; and from this practice L 
believe I have derived great advantage through life ; 
composition seldom employing so much time as 
would be necessary to write in long hand any thing 
I have published. 

By these means, not being disgusted with these 
strict forms of religion as many persons of better 
health and spirits probably might have been (and 
on which account I am far from recommending the 
same strictness to others) I acquired in early life a 
serious turn of mind. Among other things I had at 


Dr. Priestley* 15 

this time a great aversion to Plays and Romances, 
so that I never read any works of this kind except 
Robinson Crusoe, until I went to the academy. I 
well remember seeing my brother Timothy reading 
a book of Knight Errantry, and with great indigna- 
tion I snatched it out of his hands, and threw it a- 
way. This brother afterwards, when he had for 
some time followed my fathers business (which was 
that of a Cloth. dresser) became, if possible, more 
serious than I had been ; and after an imperfect edu- 
cation, took up the profession of a minister among 
the Independents, in which he now continues* 

While I was at the Grammar School I learned 
Mr. Annet's Short hand> and thinking I could sug- 
gest some improvements in it, I wrote to the Au- 
thor, and this was the beginning of a correspondence 
which lasted several years. He was, as I ever per- 
ceived, an unbeliever in Christianity and a necessari- 
an. On this subject several letters, written with care 
on both sides, passed between us, and these Mr. 
Annet often pressed me to give him leave to publish, 
but I constantly refused. I had undertaken the de- 
fence of Philosophical Liberty, and the correspon- 
dence was closed without mv being; convinced of 


16 Memoirs op 

the fallacy of my arguments, though upon studying 
the subject regularly, in the course of my academi- 
cal education afterwards, I became a confirmed Ne- 
cessarian, and I have through life derived, as I ima- 
gine, the greatest advantage from my full persuasion 
of the truth of that doctrine. 

My Aunt, and all my relations, being strict Cal- 
vinists, it was their intention to send me to the a- 
cademy at Mik-end, then under the care of Dr. Caw- 
der. But, being at that time ail Arminian, I reso- 
lutely opposed it, especially upon finding that if I 
went thither, besides giving an experience, I must 
subscribe my assent to ten printed articles of the 
strictest calvinistic faith, and repeat it every six 
months. My opposition, however, would proba- 
ble have been to no purpose, and I must have adop- 
ted some other mode of life, if Mr. Kirkby above 
mentioned had not interposed, and strongly recom- 
mended the academy of Dr. Doddridge, on the idea 
that I should have a better chance of being made a 
scholar. He had received a good education him- 
self, was a good classical scholar, and had no o- 
pinion of the mode of education among the very or- 
thodox Dissenters, and being fond of me, he was 


Dr. Priestley. 17 

desirous of my having every advantage that could be 
procured for me. My good Aunt, not being a bi- 
gotted Calvinist, entered into his views, and Dr. 
Doddridge being dead, I was sent to Daventry, and 
was the first pupil that entered there. My Step-mo- 
ther also, who was a woman of good sense, as well 
as of religion, had a high opinion of Dr. Doddridge, 
having been sometime housekeeper in his family. 
She had always recommended his Academy, but 
died before I went thither. 

Three years, viz. from September 1752 to 1755, 
I spent at Daventry with that peculiar satisfaction 
with which young persons of generous minds usual- 
ly go through a course of liberal study, in the socie- 
ty of others engaged in the same pursuits, and free 
From the cares and anxieties which seldom fail to 
lay hold on them when they come out into the 


In my time, the academy was in a state peculiarly 
favorable to the serious pursuit of truth, as the stu- 
dents were about equally divided upon every questi- 
on of much importance, such as Liberty and Necessi- 
ty, the Sleep of the soul, and all the articles of theologi- 
cal orthodoxy and heresy ; in consequence of which 

B all 

18 Memoirs of 

all these topics were the subject of continual discus* 
sion. Our tutors also were of different opinions, 
Dr. Ashworth taking the orthodox side of every 
question, and Mr. Clark, the sub-tutor, that of here- 
sy, though always with the greatest modesty. 

Both of our tutors being young, at least as tutors, 
and some of the senior students excelling more than 
they could pretend to do in several branches of stu- 
dy, they indulged us in the greatest freedoms, so 
that our lectures had often the air of friendly conver- 
sations on the subjects to which they related. We 
were permitted to ask whatever questions, and to 
make whatever remarks, we pleased ; and we did 
it with the greatest, but without any offensive, free- 
dom. The general plan of our studies, which may 
be seen in Dr. Doddridge^s published lectures, was 
exceedingly favourable to free enquiry, as we were 
referred to authors on both sides of every question, 
and were even required to give an account of them. 
It was also expected that we should abridge the most 
important of them for our future use. The public 
library contained all the books to which we were 

It was a reference to Dr. Hartley's Observations 


Dr. Priestley. 19 

on Man in the course of our Lectures, that first 
brought me acquainted with that performance, which 
immediately engaged my closest attention, and pro- 
duced the greatest, and in my opinion the most fa- 
vourable effect on my general turn of thinking thro* 
life. It established me in the belief of the doctrine 
of Necessity, winch I first learned from Collins ; it 
greatly improved that disposition to piety which I 
brought to the academy, and freed it from that ri- 
gour with which it had been tinctured. Indeed, I 
do not know whether the consideration of Dr. Hart- 
ley's theory contributes more to enlighten the mind, 
or improve the heart ; it effects both in so super-emi- 
nent a degree. 

In this situation, I saw reason to embrace what is 
generally called the heterodox side of almost every 
question.* But notwithstanding this, and though 


* It will be seen in the course of these memoirs that from time to 
time »s deeper reflection and more extensive reading incited him, he 
saw reason to give up almost all the peculiar theological and meta- 
physical opinions which he had imbibed in early youth ; some of them 
with considerable difficulty, and all of them at the evident risk of con- 
siderable obloquy from those whom he highly respected, as well 
sr» from those on whom his interest appeared to depend. T. &. 


20 Memoirs of 

Dr. Ash worth was earnestly desirous to make me as 
orthodox as possible, yet, as my behaviour was unex- 
ceptionable, and as I generally took his part in some lit- 
tle things by which he often drew upon himself the 
ill-will of many of the students, I was upon the whole 
a favourite with him. I kept up more or less of a 
correspondence with Dr. Ashworth till the time of 
his death, though much more so with Mr. Clark. 
This continued till the very week of his melancholy 
death by a fall from his horse at Birmingham, where 
he was minister. 

Notwithstanding the great freedom of our specula- 
tions and debates, the extreme of heresy among us 
was Arianism ; and all of us, I believe, left the aca- 
demy with a belief, more or less qualified, of the doc- 
trine of atonement. 

Warm friendships never fail to be contracted at 
places of liberal education ; and when they are well 
chosen are of singular use; Such was mine with 
Mr. Alexander of Birmingham. We were in the 
same class, and during the first year occupied the 
same room. By engagements between ourselves wc 
rose early, and dispatched many articles of business 
every clay. One of them, which continued all the 


Dr. Priestley.' 21 

time we were at the academy, was to read every day 
ten folio pages in some Greek author, and generally 
a Greek play in the course of the week besides. By 
this means we became very well acquainted with 
that language, and with the most valuable authors in 
it. This exercise we continued long after we left 
the academy, communicating to each other by letter 
an account of what we read. My life becoming 
more occupied than his, he continued his application 
to Greek longer than I did, so that before his death 
he was, I imagine, one of the best Greek scholars in 
this or any other country. My attention was always 
more drawn to mathematical and philosophical stu- 
dies than his was. 

These voluntary engagements were the more ne- 
cessary, in the course of our academical studies, as 
there was then no provision made for teaching the 
learned languages. We had even no compositions, 
or orations, in Latin. Our course of lectures was 
also defective in containing no lectures on the scrip, 
tures, or on ecclesiastical history, aud by the stu- 
dents in general (and Mr. Alexander and myself 
were no exceptions) commentators in general and 
ecclesiastical history also, were held in contempt. 

B3 On 

22 Memoirs or 

On leaving the academy he went to study under his 
uncle Dr. Benson, and with him learned to value 
the critical study of the scriptures so much, that at 
length he almost confined his attention to them. 

My other particular friends among my fellow stu- 
dents were Mr. Henry Holland, of my own class, 
Messrs. Whitehead, Smithson, Rotherham, and 
Scholcfield m that above me, and Mr. Taylor in that 
below me. With all these I kept up more or less of 
a correspondence, and our friendship was terminated 
only by the death of those who are now dead, viz. 
the three first named of these six, and I hope it will 
subsist to the same period with those who now 

All the while I was at the academy I never lost 
sight of the great object of my studies, which was 
the duties of a christian minister, and there it was 
that I laid the general plan which I have executed 
since. Particularly I there composed the first co- 
py of my Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religi- 
on, Mr. Clark, to whom I communicated my 
scheme, carefully perusing every section of it, and 
talking over the subject of it with me, 

But I was much discouraged even then with the 


Dr. Priestley. 23 

impediment in my speech, which I inherited from my 
family, and which still attends me. Sometimes I 
absolutely stammered, and my anxiety about it was 
the cause of much distress to me. However, like 
St. Paul's thorn in the flesh, I hope it has not been 
without its use. Without some such ckeck as this, 
I might have been disputatious in company, or 
might have been seduced by the love of popular ap- 
plause as a preacher : whereas my conversation and 
my deliverery in the pulpit having nothing in them 
that was generally striking, I hope I have been more 
attentive to qualifications of a superior kind. 

It is not, I believe, usual for young persons in 
dissenting academies to think much of their future 
situations in life. Indeed, we are happily preclud- 
ed from that by the impossibility of succeeding in 
any application for particular places. We often, in- 
deed, amused ourselves with the idea of our disper- 
sion in all parts of the kingdom after living so happi- 
ly together ; and used to propose plans of meeting 
at certain times, and smile at the different appear- 
ance we should probably make after being ten or 
twenty years settled in the world. But nothing of 
this kind was ever seriously resolved upon by us. 

B4 For 

24 Memoirs of 

For mv own part, I can truly say I had very little 
ambition, except to distinguish myself by my appli- 
cation to the studies proper to my profession ; and 
I cheerfully listened to the first proposal that my tu- 
tor made to me, in consequence of an application 
made to him, to provide a minister for the people of 
Needham Market in Suffolk, though it was very 
remote from my friends in Yorkshire, and a very in- 
considerable place. 

When I went to preach at Needham as a candi- 
date, I found a small congregation, about an hun- 
dred people, under a Mr. Meadows, who was su- 
perannuated They had been without a minister the 
preceding year, on account of the smallness of the 
salary ; but there being some respectable and agreeable 
families among them, I flattered myself that I should 
be useful and happy in the place, and therefore ac- 
cepted the unanimous invitation to be assistant to 
Mr. Meadows, with a view to succeed him when 
he died. He was a man of some fortune. 

This congregation had been used to receive as- 
sistance from both the Presbyterian and Independent 
funds ; but upon my telling them that I did not 
chuse to have any thing to do with the Independents, 


Dr. Priestley. 25 

and asking them whether they were able to make up 
the salary they promised me (which was forty pounds 
per annum) without any aid from the latter fund, 
they assured me they could. I soon, however, 
found that they deceived themselves; for the most 
that I ever received from them was in the proportion 
of about thirty pounds per annum, when the ex- 
pence of my board exceeded twenty pounds. 

Notwithstanding this, every thing else for the first 
half year appeared very promising, and I was happy 
in the success of my schemes for promoting the in- 
terest of religion in the place. I catechised the chil- 
dren, though there were not many, using Dr. Watt's 
Catechism ; and I opened my lectures on the theory 
of religion from the institutes, which I had composed 
at the academy, admitting all persons to attend them 
without distinction of sex or age ; but in this I soon 
found that I had acted imprudently. A minister in 
that neighbourhood had been obliged to leave his 
place on account ofArianism, and though nothing 
had been said to me on the subject, and from the 
people so readily consenting to give up the indepen- 
dent fund, I thought they could not have much bi- 
gotry among them, I found that when I came t© 


26 Memoirs op 

treat of the Unity of God, merely as an article of reli- 
gion, several of my audience were attentive to no- 
thing but the soundness of my faith in the doctrine 
of the Trinity. 

Also, though I had made it anile to myself to in- 
troduce nothing that could lead to controversy into 
the pulpit ; yet making no secret of my real opinions 
in conversation, it was soon found that I was an 
Arian. From the time of this discovery my hearers 
fell off apace, especially as the old minister took a 
decided part against me. The principal families, 
however, still continued with me ; but notwithstand- 
ing this, my salary fell far short of thirty pounds per 
annum, and if it had not been for Dr. Benson and 
Dr. Kippis, especially the former, procuring me 
now and then an extraordinary five pounds from 
different charities, I do not believe that I could have 
subsisted. I shall always remember their kindness to 
me, at a time when I stood in so much need of it. 

When I was in this situation, a neighbouring mi- 
nister whose intimate friend had conformed to the 
church of England, talked to me on that subject. He 
himself, I perceived, had no great objection to it, but 
rejecting the proposal, as a thing that I could not 
think of, he never mentioned it tc me any more. 


Dr. Priestley. 27 

To these difficulties, arising from the sentiments 
of my congregation, was added that of the failure of 
all remittances from my aunt, owing in part to the ill 
offices of my orthodox relations ; but chiefly to her 
being exhausted by her liberality to others, and think- 
ing that when I was settled in the world, I ought to 
be no longer burdensome to her. Together with me 
she had brought up a niece, who was almost her on- 
ly companion, and being deformed, could not have 
subsisted without the greatest part, at least, of all she 
had to bequeath. In consequence of these circum- 
stances, tho' my aunt had always assured me that, if 
I chose to be a minister, she would leave me indepen 
dent of the profession, I was satisfied she was not able 
to perform her promise, and freely consented to her 
leaving all she had to my cousin ; I had only a silver 
tankard as a token of her remembrance. She had 
spared no expence in my education, and that was do- 
ing more for me than giving me an estate. 

But what contributed greatly to my distress was the 
impediment in my speech, which had increased so 
much as to make preaching very painful, and took 
from me all chance of recommending myself to any 
better place. In this state, hearing of the proposal of 


28 Memoirs of 

one Mr. Angier. to cure all defects of speech, I pre- 
vailed upon my aunt to enable me to pay his price, 
which was twenty guineas ; and this was the first oc- 
casion of my visiting London. Accordingly, I at- 
tended him about a month, taking an oath not to re- 
veal his method, and I received some temporary be- 
nefit ; but soon relapsed again, and spoke worse than 
ever. When I went to London it was in company 
with Mr. Smithson, who was settled at Harlestown 
in Norfolk. By him I was introduced to Dr. Kippis 
and Dr. Benson, and by the latter to Dr. Price, but 
not at that time. 

At Needham I felt the effect of a low despised situ- 
ation, together with that arising from the want of po- 
pular talents. There were several vacancies in con- 
gregations in that neighbourhood, where my senti- 
ments would have been no objection to me, but I was 
never thought of. Even my next neighbours, whose 
sentiments were as free as my own, and known to be 
so, declined making exchanges with me, which, 
when I left that part of the country, he acknowledged 
was not owing to any dislike his people had to me as 
heretical, but for other reasons, the more genteel part 
of his hearers always absenting themselves when they 


Dr. Priestley. 29 

heard I was to preach for him. But visiting that 
country some years afterwards, when I had raised 
myself to some degree of notice in the world, and 
being invited to preach in that very pulpit, the same 
people crowded to hear me, though my elocution was 
riot much improved, and they professed to admire one 
of the same discourses they had formerly despised. 

Notwithstanding these unfavorable circumstances, 
I was far from being unhappy at Needham. I was 
boarded in a family from which I received much sa- 
tisfaction, I firmly believed that a wise providence 
was disposing every thing for the best, and I applied 
with great assiduity to my studies, which were classi- 
cal, mathematical and theological. These required 
but few books. As to Experimental Philosophy, I 
had always cultivated an acquaintance with it, but I 
had not the means of prosecuting it. 

With respect to miscellaneous reading, I was pretty 
well supplied by means of a library belonging to Mr. 
S. Alexander, a quaker,* to which I had the freest 


* QUAKERS. That instances of liberality of sentiment with re- 
spect to religious opinion are frequently to be found among the Quakers 
there can be no doubt, but this is eertainly no part of their character 


30 Memoirs of 

access. Here it was that I was first acquainted with 
any person of that persuasion ; and I must acknow- 
ledge my obligation to many of them in every future 
stage of my life. I have met with the noblest instan- 
ces of liberality of sentiment and the truest genero- 
sity among them. 

My studies however, were chiefly theological. 
Having left the academy, as I have observed, with a 
qualified belief of the doctrine of Atonement, such as 
is found in Mr. Tomkin's book, entitled, Jesus Christ 


as a Sect. Thomas Letchworth one of the moat acute and ingenious 
ef their preachers at Wandsworth near London, who from the writings 
of Dr. Priestley had become a firm convert to his Unitarian opinions, 
informed me that the expression of those opinions would be attended 
with certain expulsion from the Society. Very lately Hannah Bernard 
a female public friend who went from America to England, was prohi- 
bited from preaching by the Society, on account of her Unitarian doc- 

Thomas Letchworth has been dead many years. In the short con. 
test on the question of liberty and necessity which was occasioned by 
Toplady's life of Jerome Zanchius, he wrote a good defence of the 
doctrine of nrcessity signed Philaretes in answer to one from a disciple 
of Fletcher's of Madely, under the signature of Philaleutheros. There 
is a trifling account of him containing no information, by one William 
Matthews. T. C. 

Dr. Priestley. 31 

the Mediator, I was desirous of getting some more 
definite ideas on the subject, and with that view set 
myself to peruse the whole of the old and new testa- 
ment, and to collect from them all the texts that ap- 
peared to me to have any relation to the subject, 
This I therefore did with the greatest care, arranging 
them under a great variety of heads. At the same 
time I did not fail to note such general considera- 
tions as occurred to me while I was thus employed. 
The consequence of this was, what I had no apprehen- 
sion of when I began the work, viz. a full persuasion 
that the doctrine of Atonement, even in its most qua- 
lified sense, had no countenance either from scrip- 
ture or reason. Satisfied of this, I proceeded to di- 
gest my observations into a regular treatise, which a 
friend of mine, without mentioning my name, sub- 
mitted to the perusal of Dr. Fleming and Dr.Lard- 
ner. In consequence of this, I was urged by them 
to publish the greater part of what I had written. 
But being then about to leave Needham, I desired 
them to do whatever they thought proper with re- 
spect to it, and they published about half of my piece, 
under the title of the Doctrine of Remission, &c. 
This circumstance introduced me to the acquaint- 

02 Memoirs of 

ance of Dr. Lardner, whom I always called upon 
when I visited London. The last time I saw him, 
which was little more than a year before his death, 
having by letter requested him to give me some as- 
sistance with respect to the history I then prepared 
to write of the Corruptions of Christianity, and espe- 
cially that article of it, he took down a large bundle 
of pamphlets, and turning them over at length shew- 
ing me my own; said, " This contains my senti- 
ments on the subject." He had then forgot that 
I wrote it, and on my remarking it, he shook his 
head, and said that his memory began to fail him ; 
and that he had taken me for another person. He 
was then at the advanced age of ninety one. This 
anecdote is trifling in itself, but it relates to a great 
and good man, 

I have observed that Dr. Lardner only wished to 
publish a part of the treatise which my friend put 
into his hand. The other part of it contained re- 
marks on the reasoning of the apostle of Paul, which 
he could not by any means approve. They were, 
therefore, omitted in this publication. But the at- 
tention which I gave to the writings of this apostle at 
the time that I examined them, in order to collect 


Dr. Priestley. 33 

passages relating to the doctrine of atonement, satis- 
fied me that his reasoning was in many places far 
from being conclusive ; and in a separate work I ex- 
amined every passage in which his reasoning appear- 
ed to me to be defective, or his conclusions ill sup- 
ported ; and I thought them to be pretty numer- 

At that time I had not read any commentary on the 
scriptures, except that of Mr. Henry when I was 
young. However, seeing so much reason to be dis- 
satisfied with the apostle Paul as a reasoner, I read 
Dr. Taylor's paraphrase on the epistle to the Ro- 
mans ; but it gave me no sort of satisfaction ; and 
his general Key to the epistles still less. I therefore 
at that time wrote some remarks on it, which were a 
long time after published in the Theological Reposito- 
ry Vol. 4. 

As I found that Dr.'Lardner did not at all relish 
any of my observations on the imperfections of the 
sacred writers, I did not put this treatise into his 
hands ; but I shewed it to some of my younger 
friends, and also to Dr. Kippis ; and he advised me 
to publish it under the character of an unbeliever, 
in order to draw the more attention to it. This I 

C did 

34 Memoirs of 

did not chuse, having always had a great aversion io 
assume any character that was not my own, even so 
much as disputing for the sake of discovering truth. 
I cannot ever say that I was quite reconciled to the 
idea of writing to a fictitious person, as in my letters 
to a philosophical unbeliever, though nothing can be 
more innocent, or sometimes more proper; our 
Saviour's parables implying a much greater depar- 
ture from strict truth than those letters do. I there- 
fore wrote the book with great freedom, indeed, but 
as a christian, and an admirer of the apostle Paul, asr 
I always was in other respects. 

When I was at Nantwich I sent this treatise to 
the press ; but when nine sheets were printed off, 
Dr. Kippis dissuaded me from proceeding, or from 
publishing any thing of the kind, until I should be 
more known, and my character better established. 
I therefore desisted ; but when I opened the the .lo- 
gical Repository, I inserted in that work every thing 
that was of much consequence in the other, in order 
to its being submitted to the examination of learned 
christians. Accordingly these communications 
Were particularly animadverted upon by Mr. Willet 
of Newcastle, under the signature of W. W. But 

I can- 

Dr. Priestley. 35 

I cannot say that his remarks gave me much satis- 

When I was at Needham I likewise drew up a 
treatise on the doctrine of divine influence, having 
collected a number of texts for that purpose, and ar- 
ranged them under proper heads, as I had done those 
relating to the doctrine of atonement. But I pub- 
lished nothing relating to it until I made use of some 
of the observations in my sermon on that subject, 
delivered at an ordination, and published many years 

While I was in this retired situation, I had, in con- 
sequence of much pains and thought, become per- 
suaded of the falsity of the doctrine of atonement, of 
the inspiration of the authors of the books of scripture 
as writers, and of all idea of supernatural influence, 
except for the purpose of miracles. But I was still 
an Arian, having never turned my attention to the 
Socinian doctrine, aud contenting myself with seeing 
the absurdity of the trinitarian system. 

Another task that I imposed on myself, and in 
part executed at Needham, was an accurate compa- 
rison of the Hebrew text of the hagiographa and the 
prophets with the version of the Septuagint, noting 

C2 all 

36 Memoirs of 

all the variations, &c. This I had about half finish- 
ed before I left that place ; and I never resumed it, 
except to do that occasionally for particular passages, 
which I then began, though with many disadvanta- 
ges, with a design to go through the whole. I had 
no Polyglot Bible, and could have little help from 
the labours of others. 

The most learned of my acquaintance in this situ- 
ation was Mr. Scott of Ipswich, who was well vers- 
ed in the Oriental languages, especially the Arabic . 
But though he was far from being Calvinistical, he 
gave me no encouragement in the very free enqui- 
ries which I then entered upon. Being excluded 
from all communication with the more orthodox 
ministers in that part of the country, all my acquaint- 
ance among the dissenting ministers, besides Mr. 
Scott, were Mr. Taylor of Stow- market, Mr. Dick- 
inson of Diss, and Mr. Smithson of Harlestone ; and 
it is rather remarkable, that we all left that country 
in the course of the same year ; Mr. Taylor remov- 
ing to Carter's lane in London, Mr. Dickinson to 
Sheffield, and Mr. Smithson to Nottingham. 

But I was very happy in a great degree of inti- 
macy with Mr. Chauvet, the rector of Stow- market. 


Dr. Priestley. 37 

He was descended of French parents ; and I think 
was not born in England, Whilst he lived we were 
never long without seeing each other. But he was 
subject to great unevenness of spirits, sometimes 
the most chearful man living, and at other times 
most deplorably low. In one of these fits he at 
length put an end to his life. I heard afterwards 
that he had at one time been confined for insanity, 
and had even made the same attempt some time 

Like most other young men of a liberal education, 
I had conceived a great aversion to the business of a 
schoolmaster, and had often said, that I would have 
recourse to any thing else for a maintenance in prefer- 
ence to it. But having no other resource, I was at 
length compelled by necessity to make some attempt 
in that way ; and for this purpose I printed and dis- 
tributed Proposals, but without any effect. Not 
that I was thought to be unqualified for this employ- 
ment, but because I was not orthodox. I had pro- 
posed to teach the classics, mathematics, &c. for half 
a guinea per quarter, and to board the pupils in the 
house with myself for twelve guineas per annum. 

Finding this scheme not to answer, I proposed to 
C 3 give 

38 Memoirs or 

give lectures to grown persons in such branches of 
science as I could conveniently procure the means of 
doing ; and I began with reading about twelve lec- 
tures on the use of the Globes, at half a guinea. I 
had bnc course often hearers, which did something 
more than pay for my globes ; and I should have 
proceeded in this way, adding to my apparatus as I 
should have been able to afford it, if I had not left 
that place, which was in the following manner. 

My situation being well known to my friends, Mr^ 
GUI, a distant relation by my mother, who had taken 
much notice of me before I went to the academy, and 
had often lent me books, procured me an invitation 
to preach as a candidate at Sheffield, on the resigna- 
tion of Mr. Wadsworth. Accordingly I did preach 
as a candidate , but though my opinions were no ob- 
jection to me there, I was not approved. But Mr. 
Haynes, the other minister, perceiving that I had no 
chance at Sheffield, told me that he could recommend 
me to a congregation at Nantwich in Cheshire, where 
he himself had been settled ; and as it was at a great 
distance from Needham, he would endeavour to pro- 
cure me an invitation to preach there for a year cer- 
tain, This he did, and I gladly accepting of it, remo- 

Dr. Pbiestley. SO 

ved from Ncedham , going thence to London by sea, 
to save expence. This was in 1753, after having 
been at Needham just three years.* 


* It is about sixt- miles from N d) am to London, so that the roads 
ttust have been in a bad sv.te to render a water passage more eligible 
than by land. The first turnpike ii uhorized b)- an 

act of Ch. II. 1503 but the v. stern v/as r h spirit until 

near the middle of the list cent v., ■ Tint hiring inland to\ns 

«f Great Britain, such as Manchester, 8cc. chiefly 

carried on their business through i travelling pedlars, 

and afterwards on pack horses. The in this manner from 

Manchester to London occupied a fortnight ; and it was not unusual 
for a trader going the first time himself on this expedition to take the 
prudent precaution of making his will. At present the mail stage per- 
forms the journey in about a d ly and a half. In the beginning of this 
century (as Dr. Aikin in his history of Manchester observes) it was 
thought a most arduous undertaking to make a public road over the 
"hills that separate Y d Lancashire ; now, they are p'erced 

by three navigable canals. Indeed the prosperous state of British 
manufactures and commerce, seems to have originated and progressed 
With the adoption of tar ipil \ and canals. They facilitate not merely 
the carnage and interchange ofheavy materials necessary to machine. 
ry, but they make personal intercourse cheap, speedy and universal ; 
they thus furnish the means of seeing and communicating improve- 
ments, and of observing in what way one manufacture may be brought 
to bear upon another widely diflerent in its kind, We are not yet 
sufficiently aware of their importance in America, even to the interests 
of agriculture. T - C - 


4,0 Memoirs of 

At Nantwich I found a good natured friendly peo- 
ple, with whom I lived three years very happily ; and 
in this situation I heard nothing of those controversies 
which had been the topics of almost every conversa- 
tion in Suffolk ; and the consequence was that I gave 
little attention to them myself. Indeed it was hardly 
in my power to do it, on account of my engagement 
with a school, which I was soon able to establish, 
and to which I gave almost all my attention ; and in 
this employment, contrary to my expectations, I 
found the greatest satisfaction, notwithstanding the 
confinement and labour attending it. 

My school generally consisted of about thirty boys, 
and I had a separate room for abouthalf a dozen young 
ladies. Thus I was employed from seven in the 
morning untill four in the afternoon, without any in. 
terval except one hour for dinner, and I never gave a 
holiday on any consideration, the red letter days, as 
they are called, excepted. Immediately after this em- 
ployment in my own school rooms, I went to teach in 
the family of Mr. Tomkinson, an eminent attorney, 
and a man of large fortune, whose recommendation 
was of the greatest service to me ; and here I conti- 
nued until seven in the evening. I had therefore but 


Dr. Priestley. 41 

little leisure for reading or for improving myself in 
any way, except what necessarily arose from my em- 

Being engaged in the business of a schoolmaster, 
I made it my study to regulate it in the bsst manner, 
and I think I may say with truth, that in no school 
was more business done, or with more satisfaction, 
either to the master, or the scholars, than in this of 
mine. Many of my scholars are probably living and 
I am confident that they will say that this is no vain 

At Needham I was barely able with the greatest e- 
conomy to keep out of debt (though this I always made 
a point of doing at all events) but at Nantwich my 
school soon enabled me to purchase a few books, and 
some philosophical instruments, as a small airpump> 
an electrical machine, &c. These I taught my scho- 
lars in the highest class to keep in order, and make 
use of, and by entertaining their parents and friends 
with experiments, in which the scholars were gene- 
rally the operators, and sometimes the lecturers too, 
I considerably extended the reputation of my school ; 
though I had no other object originally than gratifying 
my own taste. I had no leisure, however, to make 


42 Memoirs of 

any original experiments until many years after this 

As there were few children in the congregation 
(which did not consist of more than sixty persons, 
and a great proportion of them travelling Scotchmen) 
there was no scope for exertion with respect to my 
duty as a minister. I therefore contented myself 
with giving the people what assistance I could at 
their own houses, where there were young persons ; 
and I added veiy few sermons to those which I had 
composed at Needham, where I never failed to make 
at least one every week. 

Being boarded with Mr. Eddowes, a very socia- 
ble and sensible man, and at the same time the per- 
son of the greatest property in the congregation, and 
who was fond of music, I was induced to learn to 
play a little on the English flute, as the easiest in- 
strument ; and though I was never a proficient in it, 
my playing contributed more or less to my amuse- 
ment many years of my life. I would recommend 
the knowledge and practice of music 10 all studious 
persons ; and it will be better for them, if, like my- 
self, they should have no very fine ear, or exquisite 
taste ; as by this means they will be more easily 


Dr. Priestley. 43 

pleased, and be less apt to be offended when the per- 
formances they hear arc bat indifferent. 

At Nantwich I had hardly any literary acquaint- 
ance besides Mr. Brereton, a clergyman in the neigh- 
bourhood, who had a taste for astronomy, philoso- 
phy, and literature in genenl. I often slept at his 
house, in a room to which he gave my name. But 
his conduct afterwards was unworthy of his profes- 

Of dissenting ministers I saw most of Mr. Keay 
of Whitchurch, and Dr. Harwood, who lived and 
had a school at Congleton, preaching alternately at 
Leek and Wheelock, the latter place about ten miles 
from Nantwich. Being both of us schoolmasters, 
and having in some respect the same pursuits, we 
made exchanges for the sake of spending a Sunday 
evening together every six weeks in the summer 
time. He was a good classical scholar, and a very 
entertaining companion. 

In my congregation there was (out of the house 
in which I was boarded) hardly more than one fa- 
mily in which I could spend a leisure hour with 
much satisfaction, and that was Mr. James Cald- 
wall's, a Scotchman. Indeed, several of the travel- 

44 Memoirs of 

ling Scotchmen who frequented the place, but made 
no long stay at any time, were men of very good 
sense ; and what I thought extraordinary, not one 
of them was at all Calvinistical. 

My engagements in teaching allowed me but lit- 
tle time for composing any thing while I was at Nan- 
twich. There, however, I recompensed my Observa- 
tions on the character and reasoning of the apostle 
Paul, as mentioned before. For the use of my 
school I then wrote an English grammer* on a new 
plan, leaving out all such technical terms as were 
borrowed from other languages, and had no corres- 
ponding modifications in ours, as the future tense, 
&c. and to this I afterwards subjoined Observations 
for the use of proficients in the language,]] from the 
notes which I collected at Warrington ; where, be- 
ing tutor in the languages and Belles Letters, I gave 
particular attention to the English language, and in- 

* Prinled in 1761. 

|| Printed in 1772 at London. His lectures on the Theory of Lan- 
guage and Universal Grammar were printed the same yew at War- 
rington. David Hume was made sensible of the Gallicisms and Pe- 
culiarities of his stile by reading this Grammar; He acknowledged 
it to Mr. Griffith the Bookseller, who mentioned it to my father. 

Dr. Priestley. 45 

tended to have composed a large treatise on the 
structure and present state of it. But dropping the 
scheme in another situation, I lately gave such parts 
of my collection as I had made no use of to Mr. 
Herbert Croft of Oxford, on his communicating; to 
me his design of compiling a Dictionary and Gram- 
mar of our language. 

The academy at Warrington was instituted when I 
was at Needham, and Mr. Clark knowing the attenti- 
on that I had given to the learned languages when I 
was at Daventry, had then joined with Dr. Benson 
and Dr. Taylor in recommending me as tutor in the 
languages. But Mr. (afterward Dr.) Aikin, whose 
qualifications were superior to mine, was justly pre- 
feredto me. However, on the death of Dr. Taylor, 
and the advancement of Mr. Aikin to be tutor in di- 
vinity, I was invited to succeed him. This I accep- 
ted, though my school promised to be more gainful 
to me. But my employment at Warrington would 
be more liberal, and less painful. It was also a means 
of extending my connections. But, as I told the 
persons wno brought me the invitation, viz. Mr. 
Seddon and Mr. Holland of Bolton, I should have 
preferred the office of teaching the mathematics and 


46 Memoirs of 

natural philosophy, for which I had at that time *' 
great predilection. 

My removal to Warrington was in September, 
1761, after a residence of just three years at Nantwich. 
In this new situation I continued six years, and in 
the second year I married a daughter of Mr. Isaac 
Wilkinson, an Ironmaster near Wrexham in Wales, 
with whose family I had became acquainted in con- 
sequence of having the youngest son, William, at 
my school at Nantwich. This proved a very suita- 
ble and happy connection, my wife being a woman of 
an excellent understanding, much improved by rea- 
ding, of great fortitude and strength of mind, and of 
a temper in the highest degree affectionate and gene- 
rous ; feeling strongly for others, and little for herself. 
Also, greatly excelling in every thing relating to 
household affairs, she entirely relieved me of all con- 
cern of that kind, which allowed me to give all my 
time to the prosecution of my studies, and the other 
duties of my station. And though, in consequence 
of her father becoming impoverished, and wholly de- 
pendent on his children, in the latter part of his life, 
I had little fortune with her, I unexpectedly found a 
great resource in her two brothers, who had become 


Dr. Priestley. 47 

wealthy, especially the elder of them. At Warring- 
ton I had a daughter, Sarah, who was afterwards mar- 
ried to Mr. William Finch of Heath forge near 

Though at the time of my removal to Warrington I 
had no particular fondness for the studies relating to 
my profession then, I applied to them with great assi- 
duity ; and besides composing courses of Lectures 
on the theory of Language, and on Oratory and Criti- 
cism^ on which my predecessor had lectured, I intro- 
duced lectures on history and general policy \ on the 
laws and constitutions of England, and on the history 
of England. This I did in consequence of observing 
that, though most of our pupils were young men 
designed for situations in civil and active life, every 
article in the plan of their education was adapted to 
the learned professions. 

In order to recommend such studies as I introdu- 
ced, I composed an essay on a course of liberal educa- 
tion for civil and active life, with syllabuses of my 
three new courses of lectures ; and Dr. Brown hav- v 
ing just then published a plan of education, in which 
he recommended it to be undertaken by the state, I 
added some remarks on his treatise, shew ing how ini- 

48 Memoirs op 

mical it was to liberty, and the natural rights of pa- 
rents. This leading me to consider the subject of 
civil and political liberty, I published my thoughts 
on it, in an essay on government, which in a second 
edition I much enlarged, including in it what I wrote 
in answer to Dr. Balguy, on church authority, as 
well as my animadversions on Dr. Brown. 

My Lectures on the theory of language and universal 
grammar were printed for the use of the students, but 
they were not published. Those on Oratory and 
Criticism I published when I was with Lord Shel 
burne, and those on History and general policy are 
now printed, and about to be published.* 

Finding no public exercises at Warrington, I intro- 
duced them there , so that afterwards every Satur- 
day the tutors, all the students, and often strangers, 
were assembled to hear English and Latin composi- 
tions, and sometimes to hear the delivery of speeches, 
and the exhibition of scenes in plays. It was my 
province to teach elocution, and also Logic, and 
Hebrew. The first of these I retained ; but after a 


• This vrork has been reprinted in Philadelphia with additions, par- 
ticularly of a chapter on the government of the United States. 

Dr. Priestley. 49 

year or two I exchanged the two last articles with 
Dr. Aikin for the civil law, and one year I gave a 
course of lectures in anatomy. 

With a view to lead the students to a facility in 
writing English, I encouraged them to write in verse. 
This I did not with any design to make them poets, 
but to give them a greater facility in writing prose , 
and this method I would recommend to all tutors. 
I was myself far from having any pretension to the 
character of a poet ; but in the early part of my life I 
was a great versifier, and this, I believe, as well as 
my custom of writing after preachers, mentioned be- 
fore, contributed to the ease with which I always 
wrote prose. Mrs. Barbauld has told me that it was 
the perusal of some verses of mine that first induced 
her to write any thing in verse, so that this country is 
in some measure indebted to me for one of the best 
poets it can boast of. Several of her first poems 
were written when she was in my house, on occasi- 
ons that occurred while she was there. 

It was while I was at Warrington that I published 
my Chart of Biography, though I had begun to con- 
struct itat Nantwich. Lord Willoughby of Parham, 
who lived in Lancashire, being pleased with the idea 

D of 

50 Memoirs of 

of it, I, with his consent, inscribed it to him ; but 
he died before the publication of it : The Chart of 
History, corresponding to it, I drew up some time af- 
ter at Leeds. 

I was in this situation when, going to London,* 
and being introduced to Dr. Price, Mr. Canton, 
Dr. Watson, (the Physician,) and Dr. Franklin, I w T as 
led to attend to the subject of experimental philoso- 
phy more than I had done before ; and having com- 
posed all the Lectures I had occasion to deliver and 
finding myself at liberty for any undertaking, I men- 
tioned to Dr. Franklin an idea diat had occurred to 
me of writing the history of discoveries in Electrici- 
ty', which had been his favourite study. This I told 
him might be an useful work, and that I would wil- 
lingly undertake it, provided I could be furnished 
with the books necessary for the purpose. This he 
readily undertook, and my other friends assisting 
him in it, I set about die work, without having the 


* He always spent one month in every year in London which was 
of great i,se to him. He saw ar.d heard a great deal. He generallj 
made additions to his library and his chemical apparatus. A new 
quently given to his ideas. New and useful acquaintan- 
ces wei £ formed, aud old ones confirmed. 

Dr. Priestley^ 51 

least idea of doing any thing more than writing a 
distinct and methodical account of all that had been 
done by others. Having, however, a pretty good 
machine, I was led, in the course of my writing the 
history, to endeavour to ascertain several facts which 
were disputed ; and this led me by degrees into a 
large field of original experiments, in which I spar- 
ed no expence that I could possibly furnish. 

These experiments employed a great proportion of 
my leisure time ; and yet before the complete expi- 
ration of the year in which I gave the plan of my 
work to Dr. Franklin, I sent him a copy of it in 
print. In the same year five hours of every day 
were employed in lectures, public or private, and 
one two months vacation I spent chiefly at Bristol, 
on a visit to my father-in-law. 

This I do not mention as a subject of boasting. 
For many persons have done more in the same time ; 
but as an answer to those who have objected to some 
of my later writings, as hasty performances. For 
none of my publications were better received than 
this History of Electricity , which was the most hasty 
of them all. However, whether my publications 
have taken up more or less time, I am confident that 

D 2 more 

S2 Memoirs of 

more would not have contributed to their perfection, 
in any essential particular ; and about anything far- 
ther I have never been very solicitous. My object 
was not to acquire the character of a fine writer, but 
of an useful one. I can also truly say that gain was 
never the chief object of any of my publications. Se. 
veral of them were written with the prospect of cer- 
tain loss. 

During the course of my electrical experiments in 
this year I kept up a constant correspondence with 
Dr. Franklin, and the rest of my philosophical friends 
in London ; and my letters circulated among them 
all, as also every part of my History as it was trans- 
cribed. This correspondence would have made a 
considerable volume, and it took up much time ; but 
it was of great use with respect to the accuracy of 
my experiments, aad the perfection of my work. 

After the publication of my Chart of Biography, 
Dr. Percival of Manchester, then a student at Edin- 
burgh, procured me the title of Doctor of laws 
from that university ; and not long after my new 
experiments in electricity were the means of intro- 
ducing me into the Royal Society, with the recom- 
mendation of Dr. Franklin, Dr. Watson, Mr. Can- 
ton, and Dr. Price. 


Dr. Priestley. 53 

In the whole time of my being at Warrington I 
was singularly happy in the society of my fellow tu- 
tors,* and of Mr. Seddon, the minister of the Dlace. 
We drank tea together every Saturday, and our con- 
versation was equally instructive and pleasing. I often 
thought it not a little extraordinary, that four persons, 
who had no previous knowledge of each other, should 
have been brought to unite in conducting such ft 
scheme as this, and all be zealous necessarians, as 
we were. We were likewise all Arians, and the on, 
ly subject of much consequence on which we dif- 
fered respected the doctrine of atonement, concern- 
ing which Dr. Aikin held some obscure notions. 
Accordingly, this was frequently the topic of our 
friendly conversations. The only Socinian in the 
neighbourhood was Mr. Seddon of Manchester; 
and we all wondered at him. But then we never 
entered into any particular examination of the subject. 

Receiving some of the pupils into my own house, 

I wasr 

* At Warrington he had for colleagues and successors, Dr. John 
Taylor, author of the Hebrew Concordance and of several other 
works, on Oiiginjil Sin, Atonement, &c. Dr. Aikin the Elder, Dr. Rein- 
hold Forstcr the Naturalist and traveller, Dr. Enfield and Mr. Walker. 


54 Memoirs of 

I was by this means led to form some valuable 
friendships, but especially with Mr. Samuel Vaughan, 
a friendship which has continued hitherto, has in si 
manner connected our families, and will, I doubt 
not, continue through life. The two eldest of his 
sons were boarded with me. 

- The tutors having sufficient society among them- 
selves, we had not much acquaintance out of the 
academy. Sometimes, however, I made an excur- 
sion to the towns in the neighbourhood. At Liver- 
pool I was always received by Mr. Bentley, after- 
wards partner with Mr, Wedgwood, a man of ex- 
cellent taste improved understanding, and a good 
disposition, but an unbeliever in Christianity, which 
was therefore often the subject of our conversation. 
He was then a widower, and we generally, and con- 
trary to my usual custom, sat up late. At Man- 
chester I was always the guest of Mr. Potter, whose 
son Thomas was boarded with me. He was one of 
the worthiest men that ever lived. At Chowbent I 
was much acquainted with Mr. Mort, a man equal 
ly distinguished by his chearfulness and liberality 
of sentiment. 

Of the ministers in the neighbourhood, I recollect 


Dr. Priestley. 55 

with much satisfaction the interviews I had with 
Mr. Godwin of Gataker, Mr. Holland of Bolton, 
and Dr. Enfield of Liverpool, afterwards tutor at 

Though all the tutors in my time lived in the 
most perfect harmony, though we all exerted our- 
selves to the utmost, and there was no complaint of 
want of discipline, the academy did not flourish. 
There had been an unhappy difference between Dr. 
Taylor and the trustees, in consequence of which 
all his friends, who were numerous, were our ene- 
mies ; and too many of the subscribers, being 
probably weary of the subscription, were willing to 
lay hold of any pretence for dropping it, and of jus- 
tifying their conduct afterwards. 

It is possible that iff time we might have overcome 
the prejudices we laboured under, but there being 
no prospect of things being any better, and my wife 
having very bad health, on her account chiefly I 
wished for a removal, though nothing could be more 
agreeable to me at the time than the whole of my 
employment, and all the laborious part of it was 
over. The terms also on which we took boarders, 
viz. 15 £. per annum, and my salary being only 

D4 100 £. 

56 Memoirs of 

100 £. per annum with a house, it was not possible, 
even living with the greatest frugality, to make any 
provision for a family. I was there six years, most 
laboriously employed, for nothing more than a bare 
subsistence. I therefore listened to an invitation to 
take the charge of the congregation of Mill-hill cha- 
pel at Leeds, where I was pretty well known, and 
thither I removed in September 1767. 

Though While I was at Warrington it was no part 
of my duty to preach, I had from choice continued 
the practice ; and wishing to keep up the charac- 
ter of a dissenting minister, I chose to be ordained 
while I was there ; and though I was far from having 
conquered my tendency to stammer, and probably 
never shall be able to do it effectually, I had, by tak- 
ing much pains, improved my pronunciation some 
time before I left Nantwich ; where for the two first 
years this impediment had increased so much, that 
I once informed the people, that I must give up the 
business of preaching, and confine myself to my 
school. However, by making a practice of reading 
very loud and veiy slow every day, I at length suc- 
ceeded in getting in some measure the better of this 
defect, but I am still obliged occasionally to have 
recourse to the same expedient. 


Dr. Priestley. 57 

At Leeds I continued six years very happy with 
a liberal, friendly, and harmonious congregation, 
to whom my services (of which I was not sparing) 
were very acceptable. Here I had no unreasonable 
prejudices to contend with, so that I had full scope 
for every kind of exertion ; and I can truly say that 
I always considered the office of a christian minister 
as the most honourable of any upon earth, and in 
the studies proper to it I always took the greatest 

In thig situation I naturally resumed my applica- 
tion to speculative theology, which had occupied 
me at Needham, and which had been interrupted by 
the business of teaching at Nantwich and Warring- 
ton. By reading with care Dr. Lardner's letter on 
the logos, I became what is called a Socinian soon 
after my settlement at Leeds ; and after giving die 
closest attention to the subject, I have seen more and 
more reason to be satisfied with that opinion to this 
day, and likew ise to be more impressed with the 
idea of its importance. 

On reading Mr. Mann's Dissertation on the times 
efthe bunk and death of Christ, I was convinced 
that he was right in his opinion of our Saviour's 


SB Memoirs op 

ministry having continued little more than one year, 
and on this plan I drew out a Harmony of the gos- 
pels, the outline of which I first published in the 
Theological Repository, and afterwards separately 
and at large, both in Greek and English, with Notes, 
and an occasional Paraphrase. In the same work 
I published my Essay on the doctrine of Atonement^ 
improved from the tract published by Dr. Lardner, 
and also my animadversions on the reasoning of the 
apostle Paul. 

The plan of this Repository occured to me on 
seeing some notes that Mr. Turner of Wakefield 
had drawn up on several passages of scripture, which, 
I was concerned to think should be lost. He very 
much approved of my proposal of an occasional 
publication, for the purpose of preserving such ori- 
ginal observations as could otherwise probably ne- 
ver see the light. Of this work I published three 
volumes while I was at Leeds, and he never failed 
to give me an article for every number of which 
they were composed. 

Giving particular attention to the duties of my 
office, I wrote several tracts for the use of my con- 
gregation, as two Catechisms, an Address to mas- 

Dr. Priestley. 59 

ters of families on the subject of family prayer ', a 
discourse on the Lorfrs Supper, and on Church disci- 
pline, and Institutes of Natural and Repealed religion. 
Here I formed three classes of Catechumens, and 
took great pleasure in instructing them in the prin- 
ciples of religion. In this respect I hope my exam- 
ple has been of use in other congregations. 

The first of my controversial treatises was written 
here in reply to some angry remarks on my dis- 
course on the Lord's Supper by Mr. Venn, a cler- 
gyman in the neighbourhood. I also wrote remarks 
on Dr. Balguy's sermon on Church authority, and 
on some paragraphs in Judge Blackstone" 1 s Commenta- 
ries relating to the dissenters. To the two former 
no reply was made ; but to the last the judge replied 
in a small pamphlet ; on which I addressed a letter 
to him in the St. James's Chronicle. This contro- 
versy led me to print another pamphlet, entitled The 
Principles and Conduct of the Dissenters with respect 
to the chil and ecclesiastical constitution of this coun- 
try. With the encouragement of Dr. Price and 
Dr. Kippis, I also wrote an Address to Protestant 
Dissenters as such ; but without my name. Seve. 
ral of these pamphlets having been animadverted 


CO Memoirs of 

upon by an anonymous acquaintance, who thought 
I had laid too much stress on the principles of the 
Dissenters, I wrote a defence of my conduct in Let- 
ters addressed to him. 

The methodists being very numerous in Leeds, 
and many of the lower sort of my own hearers listen- 
ing to them, I wrote an Appeal to the serious profes- 
sors of Christianity \ an Illustration of particular texts, 
and republished the Trial of Elwall, ail in the cheap- 
est manner possible. Those small tracts had a great 
effect in establishing my hearers in liberal principles 
of religion, and in a short time had a far more exten- 
sive influence than I could have imagined. By this 
time more than thirty thousand copies of the Appeal 
have been dispersed. 

Besides these theoretical and controversial pieces, 
I wrote while I was at Leeds my Essay on Govern- 
ment mentioned before, my English Grammar enlar- 
ged, a familiar introduction to the study of electricity, 
a treatise on perspective, and my Chart of History, and 
also some anonymous pieces in favour of civil liber- 
ty during the persecution of Mr. Wilkes, the princi- 
pal of which was An Address to Dissenters on the sub- 
ject of the difference with America, which I wrote at 


Dr. Priestley. 61 

the request of Dr. Franklin, and Dr. Fothergil. 

But nothing of a nature foreign to the duties of my 
profession engaged my attention while I was at Leeds 
so much as the prosecution of my experiments rela- 
ting to electricity, and especially the doctrine of air. 
The last I was led into in consequence of inhabiting 
a house adjoining to a public brewery, where I at first 
amused myself with making experiments on the 
fixed air which I found ready made in the process 
of fermentation. When I removed from that house, 
I was under the necessity of making the fixed air for 
myself; and one experiment leading to another, as I 
have distinctly and faithfully noted in my various 
publications on the subject, I by degrees contrived a 
convenient apparatus for the purpose, but of the 
cheapest kind. 

When I began these experiments I knew very lit- 
tle of chemistry y and had in a manner no idea on the 
subject before I attended a course of chemical lec- 
tures delivered in the academy at Warrington by Dr. 
Turner* of Liverpool. But I have often thought 


* Dr. TURNER was a Physician at Liverpool f among 1 his friends 
a professed Atlifcist, It was Dr. Turner who wtote the reply to Dr. 



62 Memoirs of 

that upon the whole, this circumstance was no dis- 
advantage to me , as in this situation I was led to 
devise an apparatus, and processes of my own, adap- 
ted to my peculiar views. Whereas, if I had been 
previously accustomed to the usual chemical pro- 
cesses, I should not have so easily thought of any 
other i and without new modes of operation I should 
hardly have discovered any thing materially new.* 


Priestley's letters to a philosophical unbeliever under the feigned name 
♦f Hammon. He was in his day a good practical chemist. I believe 
it was Dr. Turner who first invented, or at least brought to tolerable 
perfection, the art of copying" prints upon glass, by striking off impressi- 
ons with a coloured solution of silver and fixing them on the glass by 
baking on an iron plate in a heat sufficient to incorporate the solution 
with the glass. Some of them are very neatly performed, producing 
transparent copies in a bright yellow upon the clear glass. 

Dr. Turner was not merely a whig but a republican. In a friendly 
debating society at Liverpool about the close of the American war, he 
observed in reply to a speaker who had been descanting on the honour 
Great' Britain had gained during the reign of his present Majesty, 
that it was true, we had lost the Terra Jinna of the thirteen colonies in 
America, but we ought to be satisfied with having gained in return, by 
the generalship of Dr. Herschel, a terra incognita of much greater 
extent in nubibus. T. C. 

* This necessary attention to economy also aided the simplicity of 
his apparatus, ajid was the means in some dsgree of improving it in 


Dr. Priestley. <53 

My first publication on the subject of air was in 
1772. It was a small pamphlet, on the method of 
impregnating water with fixed air ; which being im- 
mediately translated into French, excited a great de- 
gree of attention to the subject, and this was much 
increased by the publication of my first paper of ex- 
periments in a large article of the Philosophical 
Transactions the year following, for which I received 
the gold medal of the society. My method of im- 
pregnating water with fixed air was considered at a 
meeting of the College of Physicians, before whom I 
made the experiments, and by them it was recom- 
mended to the Lords of the Admiral (by whom they 
had been summoned for the purpose) as likely to be 
of use in the sea scurvy. 

The only person in Leeds who gave much attenti- 
on to my experiments was Mr. Hay, a surgeon. He 
was a zealous methodist, and wrote answers to some 


this important respect. This plainness of his apparatus rendered his 
experiments easy to be repeated, and gave them accuracy. In this re- 
spect he was like his great Cotemporary Scheele, whose discoveries 
were made by means easy to be procured and at small expence. The 
French Chemists have adopted a practice quite the reverse. T. C. 

64 Memoirs of 

of my theological tracts ; but we always conversed 
with the greatest freedom on philosophical subjects, 
without mentioning any thing relating to theology-. 
When I left Leeds, lie begged of me the earthen 
trough in which I had made all my experiments on 
air while I was there. It was such an one as is there 
commonly used for washing linnen. 

Having succeeded so well in the History of Elec^ 
tricity, I was induced to undertake the history of all 
the branches of experimental philosophy ; and at 
Leeds I gave out proposals for that purpose, and 
published the History of discoveries relating to vision 
light and colours. This work, also, I believe I exe- 
cuted to general satisfaction , and being an underta- 
king of great expence, I was under the necessity of 
publishing it by subscription. The sale, however, 
was not such as to encourage me to proceed with a 
work of so much labour and expence ; so that after 
purchasing a great number of books, to enable me 
to finish my undertaking, I was obliged to abandon 
it, and to apply wholly to original experiments.*' 
In writing the History of discoveries relating to 


* Many of the -subscription! remained unpaid. 

Dr. Priestlev. 65 

vision, I was much assisted by Mr. Michell, the 
discoverer of the method of making artificial magnets. 
Living at Thornhill, not very far from Leeds, I fre- 
quently visited him, and was very happy in his soci. 
ety, as I also was in that of Mr. Smeaton, who lived 
still nearer to me. He made me a present of his ex- 
cellent air pump, which I constantly use to this day. 
Having strongly recommended his construction of 
this instrument, it is now generally used ; whereas 
before that hardly any had been made during the. 
twenty years which had elapsed after the account that 
he had given of it in the Philoscphical Transactions. 
I was also instrumental in reviving the use of large 
electrical machines, and batteries, in electricity , the 
generality of electrical machines being little more than 
play things at the time that I began my experiments. 
The first very large electrical machine was made by 
Mr. Naime in consequence of a request made to me 
by the G~and Duke of Tuscany, to get him the best, 
machine that we could make in England. This, 
and another that he made for Mr. Vaughan, were 
constituted on a plan of my own. But afterwards 
Mr. Nairne made large machines on a more simple 
and improved construction ; and in consideration of 

E die 

66 Memoirs of 

the service which I had rendered him, he made me a 
present of a pretty large machine of the same kind. 

The review of my history of electricity by Mr. 
Bewley, who was acquainted with Mr. Michell, was 
the means of opening a correspondence between us, 
which was the source of much satisfaction to me as 
long as he lived. I instantly communicated to him 
an account of every new experiment that I made, and, 
in return, was favoured with his remarks upon them. 
AH that he published of his own were articles in the 
Appendixes to my volumes on air, all of which are 
ingenious and v?luable. Always publishing in this 
manner, he used to call himself my satellite. There 
was a vein of pleasant wit and humour in all his cor- 
respondence, which added greatly to the value of it. 
His letters to me would have made several volumes, 
and mine to him still more. When he fou nd himself 
dangerously ill, he made a point of paying me a visit 
before he died ; and he made a journey from Norfolk 
to Birmingham, accompanied by Mrs. Bewley, for 
that purpose ; and after spending about a week with 
me, he went to his friend Dr. Burney, and at his 
house he died. 

While I was at Leeds a proposal was made to me 


Dr» Priestley. 67 

to accompany Captain Cook in his second voyage to 
the south seas. As the terms were very advantage- 
ous, I consented to it, and the heads of my congrega- 
tion had agreed to keep an assistant to supply my 
place during my absence. But Mr. Banks informed 
me that I was objected to by some clergymen in the 
board of longitude, who had the direction of this bu- 
siness, on account of my religious principles; and 
presently after I heard that Dr. Forster, a person far 
better qualified for the purpose, had got the appoint- 
ment. As I had barely acquiesced in the proposal, 
this was no disappointment to me, and I was much 
better employed at home, even with respect to my 
philosophical pursuits. My knowledge of natural 
history was not sufficient for the undertaking; but 
at that time I should by application have been able to 
supply my deficiency, though now I am sensible I 
could not do it. 

At Leeds I was particularly happy in my inter- 
course with Mr. Turner of Wakefield, and occasi- 
onally, with Mr. Cappe of York, and Mr. Graham 
of Halifax. And here it was that, in consequence of 
a visit which in company with Mr. Turner I made to 
the Archdeacon Blackburne at Richmond (with 

E 2 whom 

(53 Memoirs of 

whom I had kept up a correspondence from the 
time that his son was under my care at Warrington) 
I first met with Mr. Lindsey, then of Catterick, and 
a correspondence and intimacy commenced, which 
has been the source of more real satisfaction to me 
than any other circumstance in my whole life. He 
soon discovered to me that he was uneasy in his situ- 
ation, and had thoughts of quitting it. At first I 
was not forward to encourage him in it, but rather 
advised him to make what alteration he thought pro- 
per in the offices of the church, and leave it to his su- 
periors to dismiss him if they chose. But his bet- 
ter judgment, and greater fortitude, led him to give 
up all connexion with the established church of his 
own accord. 

This took place about the time of my leaving 
Leeds, and it was not until long after this that I was 
apprized of all the difficulties he had to strugp-le with 
before he could accomplish his purpose. But the 
opposition made to it by his nearest friends, and those 
who might have been expected to approve of the 
step that he took, and to have endeavoured to make 
it easy to him, was one of the greatest. Notwith- 
standing this he left Catterick, where lie had lived 


Dr. Priestley. 69 

in affluence idolized by his parish, and went to Lon- 
don without any certain prospect ; where he lived 
in two rooms of a ground floor, until by the assist- 
ance of his friends, he was able to pay for the use of 
the upper apartments, which the state of his health 
rendered necessary. In this humble situation have I 
passed some of the most pleasing hours of my life, 
when, in conseqfuence of living with Lord Shel- 
burne, 1 spent my winters in London. 

On this occasion it was that my intimacy with 
Mr. Lindsey was much improved, and an entire 
concurrence in every thing that we thought to be for 
the interest of Christianity gave fresh warmth to our 
friendship. To his society I owe much of my zeal 
for the doctrine of the divine unity, for which he 
made so great sacrifices, and in the defence of which 
he so much distinguished himself, so as to occasion 
a new asra in the history of religion in this country. 

As we became more intimate, confiding in his 
better taste and judgment, and also in that of Mrs. 
Lindsey, a woman of the same spirit and views, and 
in all respects a help meet for him, I never chose to 
publish any tiling of moment relating to Theolcgy 
without consulting him; and hardly ever ventured 

E3 to 

70 Memoirs of 

to insert any thing that they disapproved, being sen- 
sible that my disposition led to precipitancy, to 
which their coolness was a seasonable check. 

At Leeds began my intercourse with Mr. Lee of 
Lincoln's Inn. He was a native of the place, and 
exactly one week older than myself. At that time 
he was particularly connected with the congregation, 
and before he was married spent his vacations with 
us. His friendship was a source of much greater 
satisfaction and advantage to me after I came to re- 
side in London, and especially at the time of my 
leaving Lord Shelburne, when my prospects wore 
rather a cloudy aspect. 

When I visited London, during my residence at 
Leeds, commenced my particular friendship for Dr. 
Price, to whom I had been introduced several years 
before by D". Benson ; our first interview having 
been at Mr. Brownsword's at Newington, where 
they were members of a small literary society, in 
which they read various compositions. At that time 
Dr. Benson read a paper which afterwards made a 
section in his Life of Christ. For the most amiable 
simplicity of character, equalled only by that of Mr. 
Lindsey, a truly christian spirit, disinterested pa- 


Dr. Priestley. 71 

triotism, and true candour, no man in my opinion 
ever exceeded Dr. Price. His candour will appear 
the more extraordinary, considering his warm at- 
tachments to the theological sentiments which he 
embraced in very early life. I shall ever reflect up- 
on our friendship as a circumstance highly honoura- 
ble, as it was a source of peculiar satisfaction, to me. 

I had two sons born to me at Leeds, Joseph and 
William, and though I was very happy there, I was 
tempted to leave it after continuing there six years, 
to go into the family of the Earl of Shelburne, now 
the Marquis of Lansdowne ; he stipulating to give 
me 250 £. per annum, a house to live in, and a cer- 
tainty for life in case of his death, or of my separati- 
on from him ; whereas at Leeds my salary was only 
one hundred guineas per annum, and a house, 
which was not quite sufficient for the subsistence of 
my family, without a possibility of making a provi- 
sion for them after my death. 

I had been recommended to Lord Shelburne by 
Dr. Price, as a person qualified to be a literary com- 
panion to him. In this situation, my family being 
at Calne in Wiltshire, near to his Lordship's seat at 
Bowood, I continued seven years, spending the 

E 4 summer 

.72 Memoirs of 

summer with my family, and a great part of the 
winter in his Lordship's house in London. My 
office was nominally that of librarian, but I had lit- 
tle employment as such, besides arranging his books, 
taking a catalogue of them, and of his manuscripts, 
which were numerous, and making an index to his 
collection of private papers. In fact I was with him as 
a friond, and the second year made with him the tour 
of Flanders, Holland, and Germany, as for as Stras- 
burgh ; and after spending a month at Paris, return- 
ed to England. This was in the year 1774. * 

This little excursion made me more sensible 
than I should otherwise have been of the benefit of 
foreign travel, even without the advantage of much 
conversation with foreigners. The very si^ht of 
new countries, new buildings, new customs, &x. 
and the very hearing of an unintelligible new lan- 
guage, gives new ideas, and tends to enlarge the 
mind. To me this little time was extremely pleas- 
ing, especially as I saw every thing" to the greatest 
advantage, and without any anxiety or trouble, and 
had an opportunity of seeing and conversing with 
every person of eminence wherever we came ; the 
political characters by his Lordship's connections, 


Dr. Priestley. 73 

and the literary ones by my own, I was soon, 
however; tired of Paris, and chose to spend my even- 
ings at the hotel, in company with a few literary 
friends. Fortunately for me, Mr. Magellan* be- 
ing at Paris, at the same time, spent most of the 
evenings with me ; and as I chose to return before 
his Lordship, he accompanied me to London, and 
made the journey very pleasing to me ; he being 
used to the country, the language, and the manners 
of it, which I was not. He had seen much of the 


* JOHN HYACINTH De MAGELLAN a descendant of the 
famous Navigator Magellan, was a Portuguese Jesuit, but f r more 
attached to Philosophy than Christianity. He was much employed 
by Ills rich and noble correspondents abroad to procure philosophi- 
cal Instruments from the Artists of Great Britain. He was a good 
judge of these, and being of a mechanical turn as well as a man of 
Science, he improved their construction in many instances . He was 
member of and attendant on almost all the philosophical Clubs and 
Meetings in London, and was generally furnished with earl}- intelli- 
gence of philosophical discoveries from the continent. On the 17th 
of September 1785 lie made a donation of 200 guineas to the Ame- 
rican philosophical Society, the interest whereof was to be appropri- 
ated annually as a premium for the most useful discoveries or improve- 
ments in navigation or natural philosophy, but to the exclusi* 
mere natural history. He died a few years ago, leaving Mr. Nichol- 
son and the late Dr. Crawford his Executors. T. C. 

74 Memoirs of 

world, and his conversation during our journey was 
particularly interesting to me. Indeed, in London, 
both before and after this time, I always found him 
very friendly, especially in every thing that related 
to my philosophical pursuits. 

As I was sufficiently apprized of the fact, I did 
not wonder, as I otherwise should have done, to find 
all the philosophical persons to whom I was intro- 
duced at Paris unbelievers in Christianity, and even 
professed Atheists. As I chose on all occasions to 
appear as a christian, I was told by some of them, 
that I was the only person they had ever met with, 
of whose understanding they had any opinion, who 
professed to believe Christianity. But on interrogating 
them on the subject, I soon found that they had gi- 
ven no proper attention to it, and did not really know 
what Christianity was. This was also the case with 
a great part of the company that I saw at Lord Shel- 
bume's. But I hope that my always avowing myself 
to be a christian, and holding myself ready on all oc- 
casions to defend the genuine principles of it, was 
not without its use. Having conversed so much 
with unbelievers at home and abroad, I thought I 
should be able to combat their prejudices with some 


Dr. Priestley. 75 

•advantage, and with this view I wrote, while I was 
with Lord Shelburne, the first part of my Leltetsto a 
philosophical unbeliever, in proof of the doctrines of a 
God and a providence, and to this I have added du- 
ring my residence at Birmingham, a second part, in 
defence of the evidences of Christianity. The first 
part being replied to by a person who called himself 
Mr. Hammon, I wrote a reply to his piece, which 
has hitherto remained unanswered. L am happy to 
find that this work of mine has done some good, and 
I hope that in due time it will do more. I can truly 
say that the greatest satisfaction I receive from the 
success of my philosophical pursuits, arises from the 
weight it may give to my attempts to defend Christi- 
anity, and to free it from those corruptions which 
prevent its reception with philosophical and thinking 
persons, whose influence with the vulgar, and the 
unthinking, is very great. 

With Lord Shelburne I saw a great variety of 
characters, but, of our neighbours in Wiltshire, the 
person I had the most frequent opportunity of seeing 
was Dr. Frampton, a clergyman, whose history may 
serve as a lesson to many. No man perhaps was 
ever better qualified to please in a convivial hour, or 


^6 Memoirs of 

had greater talents for conversation and repartee ; in 
consequence of which, though there were several 
things very disgusting about him, his society was 
much courted, and many promises of preferment 
were made to him. To these, notwithstanding his 
knowledge of the world, and of high life, he gave too 
much credit ; so that he spared no expence to grati- 
fy his taste and appetite, until he was universally in- 
volved in debt ; and though his friends made some 
efforts to relieve him, he was confined a year in the 
county prison at a time when his bodily infirmities 
required the greatest indulgences ; and he obtained 
his release but a short time before his death on condi- 
tion of his living on a scanty allowance ; the income 
of his livings (amounting to more than 400 £. per 
annum) being in the hands of his creditors. Such 
was the end of a man who kept the table in a roar. 

Dr. Frampton being a high churchman, he could 
nbt at first conceal his aversion tome, and endeavoured 
lo do me some ill offices. But being a man of letters, 
and despising the clergy in his neighbourhood, he 
became at last much attached to me ; and in his dis- 
tresses was satisfied, I believe, that 1 was one of his 
most sincere friends, With some great defects he 


Dr. Priestley. 77 

had some considerable virtues, and uncommon abi- 
lities, which appeared more particularly in extempore 
speaking. He always preached without notes, and 
when, on some occasions, he composed his sermons, 
he could, if he chose to do it, repeat the whole 'verba- 
tim. He frequently extemporized in verse, in a 
great variety of measures. 

In Lord Shelburne's family was Lady Arabella 
Denny, who is wdl known by her extensive chari- 
ties. She is (for she i3 still living) a woman of 
good understanding, and great piety. She had the 
care of his Lordship's two sons until they came under 
the care of Mr. Jervis, who was their tutor during 
my continuance in the family. His Lordship's young- 
er son, who died suddenly, had made astonishing 
attainments both in know ledge and piety, while very 
young, far beyond any thing that I had an opportuni- 
ty of observing in my life. 

When I went to his Lordship, I had materials for 
one volume of experiments on air, which I soon after 
published, and inscribed to him; and before I left 
him I published three volumes more, and had ma- 
terials for a fourth, which I published immediately 
on my settling in Birmingham. He encouraged me 


78 Memoirs of 

in the prosecution of my philosophical enquiries, and 
allowed me 40 £, per annum for expences of that 
kind, and was pleased to see me make experiments 
to entertain his guests, and especially foreigners. 

Notwithstanding the attention that I gave to phi^ 
losophy in this situation, I did not discontinue my 
other studies, especially in theology and metaphy- 
sics. Here I wrote my Miscellaneous Observations 
relating to education, and published my Lectures on 
Oratory and Criticism, which I dedicated to Lord 
Fitzmaurice, Lord Shelburne's eldest son. Here 
also I published the third and last part of my Insti- 
tutes of Natural and Revealed religion ; and having 
in the Preface attacked the principles of Dr. Reid, 
Dr. Beattie, and Dr. Oswald, with respect to their 
doctrine of Common Sense, which they made to su- 
percede all rational inquiry into the subject of religi- 
on, I was led to consider their system in a separate 
work, which, though written in a manner that I do 
not intirely approve, has, I hope upon the whole 
been of service to the cause of free inquiry and, 


Tlii* reply of Dr. Priestley to the Scotch Doctors, though not 


Dr. Priestley. 79 

In the preface I had expressed my belief ofthe doc- 
trine of Philosophical Necessity, but without any de- 
sign to pursue the subject, and also my great admira- 
tion of Dr. Hartley's theory of the human mind, as 
indeed I had taken many opportunities of doing be- 
fore. This led me to publish that part of his obser- 
vations on man which related to the doctrine of asso- 
ciation of ideas, detached from the doctrine of vibra- 
tions, prefixing three dissertations, explanatory of his 
general system. In one of these I expressed some 
doubt of the immateriality of the sentient principle 
in man ; and the outcry that was made on what I 
casually expressed on that subject can hardly he ima- 
gined. In all the newspapers, and most ofthe perio- 
dical publications, I was represented as an unbeliever 
in revelation, and no better than an Atheist. 


written in a manner that his matuier reflection approved, compleatly 
set at rest the question of Common Sense as denoting the intuitive 
evidence of a class of moral and religious propositions capable of sa- 
tisfactory proof, or of high probability from considerations ab extra. 
But Dr. Reid ought hardly to be classed with coadjutors so inferior as 
the Drs. Oswald and Beattie. The latter wrote something which he 
meant as a defence of the christian religion ; but such defenders cf 
Christianity as Dr. Beattie and Soame Jcnvns, are well calculated to 
hruig it into contempt with men of reason and reflection. T. C 

SO Memoirs of 

This led me to give the closest attention to the 
subject, and the consequence was the - firmest per- 
suasion that man is wholly material, and that cur 
only prospect of immortality is from the christian 
doctrine of a resurrection. I therefore digested my 
thoughts on the subject, and published my Disqui- 
sitions relating to matter and spirit, also the subjects 
of Socimanism and necessity being nearly connected 
with the doctrine of the materiality of man, I advanc- 
ed several considerations from the state of opinions 
in antient times in favour of the former ; and in a 
separate volume discussed more at laige what related 
to the latter, dedicating the first volume of this 
work to Mr. Graham, and the second to Dr. Jebb. 

It being probable that this publication would be 
unpopular, and might be a means of bringing oCunn 
on mv patron, several attempts were made by ins 
friends, though none by himself, to dissuade me 
from persisting in it. But being, as I thought, en- 
gaged in the cause of important truth, I proceeded 
without regard to any consequences, assuring them 
that this publication should not be injurious to his 

In order, however, to proceed with the greatest 


Dr. Priestley. 81 

caution, in a business of such moment, I desired 
some of my learned friends, and especially Dr. 
Price, to peruse the work before it was published ; 
and the remarks that he made upon it led to a free 
and friendly discussion of the several subjects of it, 
which we afterwards published jointly ; and it re- 
mains a proof of the possibility of discussing subjects 
mutually considered as of the greatest importance, 
with the most perfect good temper, and without the 
least diminution of friendship. This work I dedi- 
cated to our common friend Mr. Lee. 

In this situation I published my Harmony of the 
gospels, on the idea of the public ministry of Jesus 
having continued little more than one year, a scheme 
which I first proposed in the Theological Reposito- 
ry ; and the Bishop of Waterford having in his Har- 
mony published a defence of the common hypothesis, 
viz. that of its having been three years, I addressed 
a letter to him on the subject, and to this he made a 
reply in a separate work. The controversy proceed- 
ed to several publications on both sides, in the most 
amicable manner , and the last Postscript was pub- 
lished jointly by us both. Though my side of the 
question was without any advocates that I know of, 

F and 

82 Memoirs of 

and had only been adopted by Mr. Mann, who 
seemed to have had no followers, there are few per- 
sons, I believe, who have attended to our discussion 
of the subject, who are not satisfied that I have suf- 
ficiently proved what I had advanced. This contro- 
versy was not finished until after my removal to Bir. 


Reflecting on the time that I spent with Lord Shel- 
burne, being as a guest in the family, I can truly say- 
that I was not at all fascinated with that mode of 
life. Instead of looking back upon it with regret, 
one of the greatest subjects of my present thankful- 
ness is the change of that situation for the one in 
which I am now placed ; and yet I was far from be- 
ing unhappy there, much less so than those who are 
born to such a state, and pass all their lives in it. 
These are generally unhappy from the want of neces- 
tary employment » on which account chiefly there 
appears to be much more happiness in the middle 
classes of life, who are above the fear of want, and 
yet have a sufficient motive for a constant exertion of 
their faculties ; and who have always some other ob- 
ject besides amusement. 

I used to make no scruple of maintaining, that 


Dr. Priestley. 83 

there is not only most virtue, and most happiness, 
but even most true politeness in the middle classes 
of life. For in proportion as men pass more of their 
time in the society of their equals, they get a better 
established habit of governing their tempers ; they 
attend more to the feelings of others, and are more 
disposed to accommodate themselves to them. On 
the other hand, the passions of persons in higher life, 
having been less controlled, are more apt to be in- 
flamed ; the idea of their rank and superiority to 
others seldom quiis them ; and though they are in 
the habit of concealing their feelings, and disguising 
their passions, it is not always so well done, but that 
persons of ordinary discernment may perceive what 
they inwardly suffer. On this account, they are 
really intitlcd to compassion, it being the almost un- 
avoidable consequence of their education and mode 
of life. But when the mind is not hurt in such a 
situation, when a person born to affluence can lose 
sight of himself, and truly feel and act for others, 
the character is so godlike, as shews that this ine- 
quality of condition is not without its use. Like 
the general discipline of life, it is for the present lost 


Memoirs of 

on the great mass, but on a few it produces what no 
other state of things could do.* 


* The account here given of Dr. Priestley's connection 
with Lord Shelburne must be gratifying to every friend of sci- 
ence and literature, notwithstanding the subsequent separation. 
To such persons the character of a nobleman who like Lord 
Shelburne, deyotes so much of his time, and so much of his in- 
come to the pursuits of knowledge, and the encouragement of those 
who eminently contribute to enlighten mankind, cannot but be inter- 
esting. Had he behaved dishonourably or disrespectfully to a man 
of Dr. Priestley's high station in the literary world, it would have 
'been an argument that science and literature were ineffectual to sof- 
ten tlie pride of titled opulence and hereditary rank, But Ovid has 
observed justly, (ingenuas didicisse Jideliter Actes, emollit mores pecsi- 
nit essefcros.J 

It is right to mention an anecdote highly honourable to Lord Shel- 

"burne, on the authority of Dr. Priestley. At the conclusion of the treaty 

-of peace in 17S3, negotiated by Lord Shelburne while he was in the 

ministry, a strong opposition was expected, particularly from his 

former coadjutors vho soon after the death of Lord Rockingham had 

seceded from Lord Shelbume's administration. It was suggested to 

• this nobleman, that it was customary for the minister for the time 

being to let it be understood among the mutes of the ministerial 

members, that they might expect the usual douceur for their votes on 

such an occasion. Some light might be thrown on the nature and 

quantum of this douceur, by the list of ministerial rewards distributed 

althe close of each session, as stated publicly to the house of Com- 


Dr. Priestley. 85 

The greatest part of the time that I spent with 
Lord Shelburne I passed with much satisfaction, 
his Lordship always behaving to me with uniform 
politeness, and his guests with respect. But about 
two years before I left him, I perceived evident 
marks of dissatisfaction, though I never understood 
the cause of it ; and until that time he had been 
even lavish on all occasions in expressing his satis- 
faction in my society to our common friends. When 
I left him, I asked him whether he had any fault to 
find with my conduct, and he said none. 

At length, however, he intimated to Dr. Price, that 
he wished to give me an establishment in Ireland, 
where he had large property. This gave me an op- 
portunity of acquainting him, that if he chose to dis- 
solve the connexion, it should be on the terms ex- 
pressed in the writings which we mutually signed 


jnons by the late Sir George Saville. Lord Shelburne without hesita- 
tion refused compliance; and declared that if his peace could not 
obtain the unbought approbation of the house, it might take its 
chance. Th« consequence was that although the address was carried 
in the Lords by 72 to 59 it was lost in the Commons by 224 to 208. 

T. C 


86 Memoirs of 

when it was formed, in consequence of which I should 
be entitled to an annuity of an hundred and fifty 
pounds, and then I would provide for myself, and to 
this he readily acceded. He told Dr. Price that he 
wished our separation to be amicable, and I assured 
him that nothing should be wanting on my part to 
make it truly so. Accordingly, I expected that he 
would receive my visits when I should be occasion- 
ally in London, but he declined them. 

However, when I had been some years settled at 
Birmingham, he sent an especial messenger, and 
common friend, to engage me again in his service , 
having, as that friend assured me, a deep sense 
of the loss of Lord Ashburton (Mr. Dunning) 
by death, and of Colonel Barre by his becoming al- 
most blind, and his want of some able and faithful 
friend, such as he had experienced in me ; with other 
expressions more flattering than those. I did not 
chuse, however, on any consideration,' to leave the 
very eligible situation in which I now am, but expres- 
sed my readiness to do him any service in my power. 
His Lordship's enemies have insinuated that he was 
not punctual in the payment of my annuity ; but the 
contrary is true : Hitherto nothing could have been 


Dr. Priestley. 87 

more punctual, and I have no reason to suppose that 
it will ever be otherwise. 

At Calne I had another son born to me, whom, at 
Lord Shelburne's request, I called Henry. 

It was at the time of my leaving Lord Shelburne 
that I found the great value of Mr. and Mrs. Lind- 
sey's friendship, in such a manner as I certainly had 
no expectation of when our acquaintance commen- 
ced ; especially by their introducing me to the notice 
of Mrs. Rayner, one of his hearers, and most zealous 

Notwithstanding my allowance from Lord Shel- 
burne was larger than that which I had at Leeds, yet 
my family growing up, and my expences, on this and 
other accounts, increasing more than in proportion, 
I was barely able to support my removal. But my 
situation being intimated to Mrs. Rayner, besides 
smaller sums, with wjiich she occasionally assisted 
me, she gave me an hundred guineas to defray the 
cxpence of my removal, and deposited with Mrs. 
Lindsey, which she soon after gave up to me, four 
hundred guineas, and to this day has never failed gi- 
ving me every year marks of her friendship. Her's 
is, indeed, I seriously think, one of the first christian 
F 4 characters 

88 Memoirs or 

characters that I was ever acquainted with, having a 
cultivated comprehensive mind, equal to any subject 
of theology or metaphysics, intrepid in the cause of 
truth, and most rationally pious. 

Spending so much of my time in London was the 
means of increasing my intimacy with both Mr. Lind- 
sey and Mr. Lee, our common friend ; who amidst 
the bustle of politics, always preserved his attachment 
to theology, and the cause of truth. The Sunday I 
always spent with Mr. Lindsey, attending the service 
of his chapel, and sometimes officiating for him ; and 
with him and Mrs. Lindsey I generally spent the 
evening of that day at Mr. Lee's who then admitted 
no other company, and seldom have I enjoyed socie- 
ty with more relish. 

My winter's residence in London was the means of 
improving my acquaintance with Dr. Franklin. I 
was k seldom many days without seeing him, and be- 
ing members of the same club, we constantly return- 
Red together. The difference with America breaking 
out at this time, our conversation was chiefly of a po- 
litical nature ; and I can bear witness, that he was so 
far from promoting, as was generally supposed, that 
he took every method in his power to prevent a rup- 

Dr. Priestlky. 89 

hire between the two countries. He urged so much 
the doctrine of forbearance, that for some time he was 
unpopular with the Americans on that account, as 
too much a friend to Great Britain. His advice to 
them was to bear every thing for the present, as they 
were sure in time to out grow all their grievances ; as 
it could not be in the power of the mother country 
to oppress them long. 

He dreaded the war, and often said that, if the dif- 
ference should come to an open rupture, it would be 
a war of ten years, and he should not live to see the 
end of it. In reality the war lasted near eight years 
but he 4id live to see the happy termination of it. 
That the issue would be favorable to America, he 
never doubted. The English, he used to say, may 
take all our great towns, but that will not give them 
possession of the country. The last day that he 
spent in England, having given out that he should 
leave London the day before, we passed together, 
without any other company ; and much of the time 
was employed in reading American newspapers, es- 
pecially accounts of the reception which the Boston 
port bill met with in America ; and as lie read the 
addresses to the inhabitants of Boston from the places 


90 Memoirs of 

in the neighbourhood, the tears trickled down his 

It is much to be lamented, that a man of Dr. 
Franklin's general good character, and great influ- 
ence, should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, 
and also have done so much as he did to make others 
unbelievers. To me, however, he acknowledged 
that he had not given so much attention as he ought 
to have done to the evidences of Christianity, and de- 
sired me to recommend to him a few treatises on the 
subject, such as I thought most deserving of his 
notice, but not of great length, promising to read 
them, and give me his sentiments on them. Ac- 
cordingly, I recommended to him Hartley's evi- 
dences of Christianity in his Observations on Man, 
and what I had then written on the subject in my 
Institutes of natural and revealed religion. But 
the American war breaking out soon after, I do not 
believe that he ever found himself sufficiently at lei- 
sure for the discussion. I have kept up a corres- 
pondence with him occasionally ever since, and three 

of his 

• For two letters written by my father relating to Dr. Franklin and 
Mr Burke see appendi;-: No. 6. 

Dr. Priestley. 91 

of his letters to me were, with his consent, published 
in his Miscellaneous Works, in quarto. The first 
of them, written immediately on his landing b A- 
merica, is very striking. 

About three years before the dissolution of my 
connection with Lord Shelburne, Dr. Fothergill, 
with whom I had always lived on terms of much in- 
timacy, having observed, as he said, that many of 
my experiments had not been carried to their proper 
extent on account of the expence that would have 
attended them, proposed to me a subscription from 
himself and some of his friends, to supply me with 
whatever sums I should want for that purpose, and 
named a hundred pounds per annum. This large 
subscription I declined, lest the discovery of it (by 
the use that I should, of course, make of it) should 
give umbrage to Lord Shelburne, but I consented 
to accept of 40 £. per annum, which from that time 
he regularly paid me, from the contribution of him- 
self, Sir Theodore Jansen, Mr. Constable, and Sir 
George Saville. 

On my leaving Lord Shelburne, which was at- 
tended with the loss of one half of my income, Dr. 
Fothergill proposed an enlargement of my allow- 

92 Memoirs of 

ance for my experiments, and likewise for my main- 
tenance, without being under the necessity of giv- 
ing my time to pupils, which I must otherwise have 
done. And, considering the generosity with which 
this voluntary offer was made by persons who could 
well- aiford it, and who thought me qualified to 
serve the interests of science, I thought it right to 
accept of it ; and I preferred it to any pension from 
the court, offers of which were more than once made 
by persons who thought they could have procured 
one for me. 

As it was my wish to do what might be in my 
power to shew my gratitude to my friends and bene- 
factors that suggested the idea of writing these Me- 
moirs, I shall subjoin a list of their names. Some 
of the subscriptions were made with a view to defray 
the expence of my experiments only ; but the grea- 
ter part of the subscribers were persons who were 
equally friends to my theological studies. 

The persons who made me this regular annual al- 
lowance were Dr. Watson and his son, Mr. Wedg- 
wood, Mr. Moseley, Mr. S. Sake, Mr. Jeffries, 
Mr. Radcliffe, Mr. Remington, Mr. Strutt of Der- 
by, Mr. Shore, Mr. Reynolds of Paxton, Messrs. 


Dr. Priestliy. 93 

Galton, father and son, and the Rev. Mr. Simpson. 

Besides the persons whose names appear in this 
list, as regular subscribers, there were other persons 
who, without chusing to be known as such, con- 
tributed no less to my support, and some considera- 
bly more. 

My chief benefactress was Mrs. Rayner, and next 
to her Dr, Heberden, equally distinguished for his 
love of religious truth, and his zeal to promote sci- 
ence. Such also is the character of Mr. Tayleur of 
Shrewsbury, who has at different times remitted me 
considerable sums, chiefly to defray the expences 
incurred by my theological inquiries and publica- 

Mr. Parker of Fleet street very generously suppli- 
ed me with every instrument that I wanted in glass, 
particularly a capital burning lens,* sixteen inches 
in diameter. All his benefactions in this way would 
have amounted to a considerable sum. Mr. Wedg- 
wood also, besides his annual benefaction, supplied 


• Though his sight was not much worse than before during the last 
ten years of his life it had been much injured by his experiments with 
.the burning Lens of which he made much use in summer time. 

94 Memoirs of 

me with every thing that I wanted made of pottery, 
such as retorts, tubes, &c. which the account of my 
experiments will shew to have been of great use to 

On my removal to Birmingham commenced my 
intimacy with Mr. William Russell, whose public 
spirit, and zeal in every good cause, can hardly be 
exceeded. My obligations to him were various 
and constant, so as not to be estimated by sums of 
money. At his proposal I doubt not, some of the 
heads of the congregation made me a present of two 
hundred pounds, to assist me in my theological pub- 

Mr. Lee shewed himself particularly my friend 
at the time that I left Lord Shelburne, assisting me 
in the difficuties with which I was then pressed, and 
continuing to befriend me afterwards by seasonable 
benefactions. By him it was hinted to me during 
the administration of Lord Rockingham, with whom 
he had great influence, that I might have a pension 
f *m the government, to assist in defraying the ex- 
pence of my experiments. Another hint of the same 
kind was given me in the beginning of Mr. Pitt's 
administration by a Bishop in whose power it was to 



Dr. Priestley. 95 

have procured it from him. But in both cases I 
declined the overture, wishing to preserve myself 
independent of every thing connected with the court, 
and preferring the assistance of generous and opulent 
individuals, lovers of science, and also lovers of li- 
berty. Without assistance I could not have carried 
on my experiments at all, except on a very small 
scale, and under great disadvantages. 

Mr. Galton, before I had any opportunity of being 
personally acquainted with him, had, on the death of 
Dr. Fothergill, taken up his subscription. His son 
did the same, and the friendship of the latter has ad- 
ded much to the happiness of my situation here.* 
Seldom, if ever, have I known two persons of such 
cultivated minds, pleasing manners, and liberal dis- 
positions, as he and Mrs. Galton. The latter had the 
greatest attachment imaginable to my wife. 

Mr, Salte was zealous in promoting the subscrip- 
tions to my experiments, and moreover proposed to 
take one of my sons as an apprentice without any 
fee. But my brother-in-law making the same offer, 
I gave it the preference : Mr. Wedgwood, who has 


* Birminghwa. 

95 Memoirs of 

distinguished himself by his application to philoso- 
phical pursuits, as well as by his great success in the 
improvement of his manufactory, was very zealous 
to serve me, and urged me to accept of a much lar- 
ger allowance than I chose. 

The favours that 1 received from my two brothers- 
in-law deserve my most grateful acknowledgments. 
They acted the part of kind and generous relations, 
especially at the time when I most wanted assistance. 
It was in consequence of Mr. John Wilkinson's pro- 
posal, who wished to have us nearer to him, that, be- 
ing undetermined where to settle, I fixed upon Bir- 
mingham, where he soon provided a house for mc. 

My apology for accepting of these large benefacti- 
ons is, that besides the great expence of my philoso- 
phical and even my theological studies, and the edu- 
cation of three sons and a daughter, the reputation 1 
had, justly or unjustly, acquired brought on me a 
train of expences not easy to describe, to avoid or to 
estimate ; so that without so much as keeping ahorse 
(which the kindness of Mr. Russel made unnecessa- 
ry) the expence of housekeeping, &x. was more than 
double the amount of any regular income that I 


Dr. Priestley. 97 

I consider my settlement at Birmingham as the 
happiest event in my life, being highly favorable to 
every object I had in view, philosophical or theologi- 
cal. In the former respect I had the convenience of 
good workmen of every kind, and the society of per- 
sons eminent for their knowledge of chemistry, par- 
ticularly Mr. Watt, Mr. Keir, and Dr. Withering. 
These with Mr. Boulton, and Dr. Darwin, who soon 
left us by removing from Litchfield to Derby, 
Mr. Gal ton, and afterwards Mr. Johnson of Kenel- 
worth and myself dined together every month, calling 
ourselves the lunar society, because the time of our 
meeting was near the full moon. 

With respect to theology, I had the society of Mr. 
Hawkes, Mr. Blyth, and Mr. Scholefield, and 
his assistant Mr. Coates, and, while he lived Mr. 
Palmer, before of Macclesfield. We met and drank 
tea together, every fortnight. At this meeting we 
read all the papers that were sent for the Theological 
Repository, which I revived some time after my 
coming hither, and in general our conversation was 
of the same castas that with my fellow tutors at War- 


Within a quarter of a year of my coming to reside 
G *t 

98 Memoirs of 

at Birmingham, Mr. Havvkcs resigned, and I had an 
unanimous invitation to succeed him, as colleague 
with Mr. Blyth, a man of a truly christian temper. 
The congregation we serve is the most liberal, I be- 
lieve, of any in England ; and to this freedom the 
unwearied labours of Mr. Bourne had eminently con- 

With this congregation I greatly improved my plan 
of catechizing and lecturing, and my classes have 
been well attended. I have also introduced the cus- 
tom of expounding the scriptures as I read them, 
which I had never done before, but which I would 
earnestly recommend to all ministers. My time be- 
ing much taken up with my philosophical and other 
studies, I agreed with the congregation to leave the 
business of baptizing, and visiting the sick, to Mr. 
Blyth, and to confine my services to the Sundays. 
I have been minister here between seven and eight 
years, without any interruption of my happiness; 
and for this I am sensible I am in a great measure in- 
debted to the friendship of Mr. Russell. 

Here I have never long intermitted my philosophi- 
cal pursuits, and I have published two volumes of 
experiments, besides communications to the Royal 


Dr. Priestley. 99 

In theology I have completed my friendly contro- 
versy with the Bishop of Wateiford on the duration of 
Christ's ministry, I have published a variety of single 
sermons, which, with the addition of a few others, 
I have lately collected, and published in one volume, 
and I am now engaged in a controversy of great ex- 
tent, and which promises to be of considerable conse- 
quence, relating to the person of Christ. 

This was occasioned by my History of the Corrup- 
tions of Christianity, which I composed and published 
presently after my settlement at Birmingham, the 
first section of which being rudely attacked in the 
Monthly Review,* then by Dr. Horsely, andafterwards 
by Mr. Howes, and other particular opponents, I un- 
dertook to collect from the original writers the state of 
opinions on the subject in the age succeeding that of 
the apostles, and I have published the result of my 
investigation in my History of early opinions concern 


1 — _________ 

* Written by Mr. Badcock. Mr. Badcock was originally 
& dissenting minister. He came to pay his respects to my father at 
Calne, at which time he agreed with him upon most subjects. He 
after wards found reason to change his opinions, or at lea9t his con- 
duct, connecting himself with the Clergy of the Church of England, 
and became my father's bitter enemy. 


100 Memoirs of 

nirtg Jesus Christ, in four volumes octavo. This 
work has brought me more antagonists, and I now 
write a pamphlet annually m defence of the unitarian 
doctrine against all my opponents. 

My on ! y Avian antagonist is Dr. Price, with 
whom the discussion of the question has proceeded 
with perfect amity. But no Arian has as yet appear- 
ed upon the ground to which I wish to confine the 
controversy, viz. the state of opinions in the primi- 
tive times, as one means of collecting what was the 
doctrine of the apostles, and the true sense of scrip- 
ture on the subject. 

Some years ago I resumed the Theological Repo- 
sitory in which I first advanced my objections to the 
doctrine of the miraculous conception of Jesus, 
and his natural fallibility and peccability. These 
opinions gave at first great alarm, even to my best 
friends ; but that is now in a great measure subsid- 
ed. For wr.nt of sufficient sale, I shall be obliged 
to discontinue this Repository for some time. 

At present I thank God I can say that my pros- 
pects are better than they have ever been before, and 
my own health, a d that of my wife, better establish- 
ed, and my hopes as to the dispositions and future 
settlement of my children satisfactory . 

I shall 

Dr. Priestley. 101 

I shall now close this account of myself with some 
observations of a general nature, but chiefly an ac- 
count of those circumstances for which I have more 
particular reason to be thankful to that good being 
who has brought me hitherto, and to whom I trust 
I habitually ascribe whatever my partial friends think 
the world indebted to me for, 

I. Not to enlarge again on what has been menti- 
oned already, on the fundamental blessings of a reli- 
gious and liberal education, I have particular reason 
to be thankful for a happy temperament of body and 
mind, both derived from my parents. My father, 
grand father, and several branches of the family, 
were remarkably healthy, and long lived; and 
though my constitution has been far from robust, 
and was much injured by a consumptive tendency, 
or rather an ulcer in my lungs, the consequence of im- 
proper conduct of myself when I was at school (be- 
ing often violently heated with exercise, and as of- 
ten imprudently chilled by bathing, &c.) from which 
with great difficulty I recovered, it has been excel- 
lently adapted to that studious life which has fallen 
to my lot. 

I have never been subject to head-achs, or any 
G 3 other 

102 Memoirs of 

other complaints that are peculiarly unfavourable 
to study- I have never found myself less disposed, 
or less qualified, for mental exertions of any kind at 
one time of the day more than another; but all sea- 
sons have been equal to me, early or late, before din- 
ner or after, Sec. And so far have I been from suf- 
fering by my application to study, (which however 
has never been so close or intense as some have ima- 
gined) that I have found my health improving from 
the age of eighteen to the present time ; and never 
have I found myself more free from any disorder 
than at present- I must, however, except a short 
time preceding and following my leaving Lord Shel- 
burne, when I laboured under a bilious complaint, 
in which I was troubled with gall stones, which 
sometimes gave me exquisite pain. But by confi. 
ning myself to a vegetable diet, I perfectly recovered ; 
and I have now been so long free from the -disorder 
that I am under no apprehension of its return. 

It has been a singular happiness to me, and a proof, 
I believe, of a radically good constitution, that I have 
always slept well, and have awaked with my faculties 
perfectly vigorous, without any disposition to drow. 
siness. Also, whenever I have been fatigued with 


Dr. Priestley. 103 

any kind of exertion, I could at any time sit down 
and sleep ; and whatever cause of anxiety I may have 
had, I have almost always lost sight of it when I 
have got to bed ; and I have generally fallen asleep 
as soon as I have been warm.* 

I even think it an advantage to me, and am truly 
thankful for it, that my health received the check 
that it did when I was young ; since a muscular ha- 
bit from high health . and strong spirits, are not, I 
think, in general accompanied with that sensibility of 
mind, which is both la. curable to piety, and to spe- 
culative purbiu s.f 

To a fundamentally good constitution of body, 
and the being who gave it me, I owe an even chear- 
fulness of temper, which has had but few interrupti- 
< , ' " * 

* My fa early riser. He never slept more than sii 

hours. ' not remember having lost a whole night's 

sleep but > en awake he often had to suffer much from 

pain and Q as from other circumstances of a very afflic- 
tive oaturev 

a T nuscular man he went through great exertion at 

. var ] btu life with activity. H<* walked very firmly, and 

t ■iiliouflyV 


104 Memoirs of 

ons. This I inherit from my father, who had uni- 
formly better spirits than any man that I ever knew, 
and by this means was as happy towards the close of 
life, when reduced to poverty, and dependent upon 
others, as in his best days ; and who, I am confident, 
would hot have been unhappy, as I have frequently 
heard him sav, in a workhouse. 

Though my readers will easily suppose that, in 
the course of a life so full of vicissitude as mine has 
been, many things must have occurred to mortify 
and discompose me, nothing has ever depressed my 
mind beyond a very short period. My spirits have 
never failed to recover their natural level, and I have 

frequently observed, and at first with some surprize, 

that the most perfect satisfaction I have ever felt has 

been a day or two after an event that afflicted me the 

most, and without any change having taken place 

in the state of things. Having found this to be th» 

case after many of my troubles, the persuasion that 

it wow/Joe so, after a new cause of uneasiness, has 

never failed to lessen the effect of its first impression, 

and together with my firm belief of the doctrine of 

necessity, (and consequently that of every thing 

being ordered for the best) has contributed to that 


Dr. Priestley. 105 

degree of composure which I have enjoyed through 
life, so that I have always considered myself as one of 
the happiest of men. 

When I was a young author, (though I did not 
publish any thing until I was about thirty) strictures 
on my writings gave me some disturbance, though I 
believe even then less than they do most others ; but 
after some time, things c r that kind hardly affected 
me at all, and on this account I may be said to have 
been well formed for public controversy.* But 
what has always made me easy in any controversy in 
which I have been engaged, has been my fixed reso- 
lution frankly to acknowledge any mistake that I 
might perceive I had fallen into. That I have never 
been in the least backward to do this in matters of 
philosophy, can never be denied. 

As I have not failed to attend to the phenomena of 
my own mind, as well as to those of other parts of 


* Though Dr. Priestley has been considered as fond of controversy 
«nd that his chief delight consisted in it, yet it is far from being true. 
He was more frequently the defendant than the assailant. His con- 
troversies as far as it depended upon himself were cavried on with 
temper and decency. He was never malicious nor even- sarcastic or 
indignant unless provoked. T.- C 

106 Memoirs of 

nature, I have not been insensible of some great de- 
fects, as well as some advantages, attending its con- 
stitution ; having from an early period been sub- 
ject to a most humbling failure of recollection, so 
that I have sometimes lost all ideas of both persons 
and things, that I have been conversant with. I 
have so completely forgotten what I have myself 
published, that in reading my own writings, what I 
find in them often appears perfectly new to me, and 
I have more dian once made experiments the results 
cf which had been published by me. 

I shall particularly mention one fact of this kind, 
as it alarmed me much at the time, as a symptom 
of all my mental powers totally failing me, until I was 
relieved by the recollection of things of a similar na- 
ture having happened to me before. When I was 
composing the Dissertations which are prefixed to my 
Harmony of the gospels, I had to ascertain something 
which had been the subject of much discussion re- 
lating to the Jewish passover (I have now forgotten 
what it was) and for that purpose had to consult, 
and compare several writers. This I accordingly 
did, and digested the result in the compass of a few 
paragraphs, which I wrote in short hand. But ha- 

Dr. pRiESTtif. 107 

ving mislaid the paper, and my attention having been 
drawn off to other things, in the space of a fortnight, 
I did the same thing over again , and should never 
have discovered that I had done it twice, if, after the 
second paper was transcribed for the press, I had not 
accidentally found the former, which I viewed with 
a degree of terror. 

Apprized of this defect, I never fail to note down 
as soon as possible every thing that I wish not to for- 
get. The same failing has led me to devise, and 
have recourse to, a variety of mechanical expedient* 
to secure and arrange my thoughts, which have been 
of the greatest use to me in the composition of large 
and complex works ; and what has excited the won- 
der of some of my readers, would only have made 
them smile if they had seen me at work. But by 
simple and mechanical methods one man shall do 
that in a month, which shall cost another, of equal 
ability, whole years to execute. This methodical 
arrangement of a large work is greatly facilitated by 
mechanical methods, and nothing contributes more 
to the perspicuity of a large work, than a good ar- 
rangement of its parts. 

What I have known with respect to myself has 


108 Memoirs or 

tended much to lessen both my admiration, and my 
contempt, of others. Could we have entered into 
the mind of Sir Isaac Newton, and have traced all the 
steps by which he produced his great works, we 
might see nothing very extraordinary in the process. 
And great powers with respect to some things are ge- 
nerally attended with great defects in others ; and 
these may not appear in a man's writings. For this 
reason it seldom happens but that our admiration of 
philosophers and writers is lessened by a personal 
knowledge of them. 

As great excellencie-s are often balanced by great, 
though not apparent, defects, so great and apparent 
defects are often accompanied by great, though not 
apparent, excellencies. Thus my defect in point of 
recollection, which may be owing to a want of suffi. 
cient coherence in the association of ideas formerly 
impressed, may arise from a mental constitution more 
favourable to new associations ; so that what I have 
lost with respect to memory, may have been com- 
pensated by what is called invention, or new and ori- 
ginal combinations of ideas. ' This is a subject that 
deserves attention, as well as every thing else that 
relates to the affections of the mind. 


Dr. Priestle?. 109 

Though I have often composed much in a little 
time, it by no means follows that I could have done 
much in a given time. For whenever I have done 
much business in a short time, it has always been 
with the idea of having time more than sufficient to 
do it in ; so that I have always felt myself at ease, 
and I could have done nothing, as many can, if I had 
been hurried. 

Knowing the necessity of this state of my mind to 
the dispatch of business, I have never put off any 
thing to the last moment ; and instead of doing that 
on the morrow which ought to be done to day, I 
have often blamed myself for doing to day whit had 
better have been put orFuntil to morrow ; precipitan- 
cy being more my fault than procrastination. 

It has been a great advantage to me that I have 
never been under the necessity of retiring from com- 
pany in order to compose any thing. Being fond of 
domestic life, I got a habit of writing on any subject 
by the parlour fire, with my wife and children about 
me, and occasionally talking to them, without expe- 
♦ riencing any inconvenience from such interruptions. 
Nothing but reading, or speaking without interrupti- 
on, has been any obstruction to me. For I could not 


HO Memoirs of 

help attending (as some can) when others spoke in my 
heaiing. These are useful habits, which studious 
persons in general might acquire, if they would ; and 
many persons greatly distress themselves, and others, 
by the idea that they can do nothing except in perfect 
solitude or silence. 

Another great subject of my thankfulness to a good 
providence is my perfect freedom from, any embar- 
rassment in my circumstances, so that, without any 
anxiety on the subject, my supplies have always been 
equal to my wants ; and now that my expences are 
increased to a degree that I had no conception of 
some years ago, I am a richer man than I was, and 
without laying myself out for the purpose. What 
is more, this indifference about an increase of for- 
tune has been the means of attaining it. When I be- 
gan my experiments, I expended on them all the 
money I could possibly raise, carried on by my ar- 
dour in philosophical investigations, and entirely re- 
gardless of consequences, except so far as never to 
contract any debt ; and if this had been without suc- 
cess, my imprudence would have been manifest. 
But having succeeded, I was in time more than in- 
demnified for all that I had expended. 


Dr. Priestlev. Ill 

My theological studies, especially those which 
made it necessary for me to consult the Christian 
Fathers, &c. have also been expensive to me. But 
I have found my theological friends even more libe- 
ral than my philosophical ones, and all beyond my 

In reflecting on my past life I have often thought 
of two sayings of Jacob. When he had lost one of his 
sons, and thought of other things that were afflictions 
to him, he said, " all these things are against me," 
sit the same time that they were in reality making for 
him. So the impediment in my speech, and the 
difficulties of my situation at Needham, I now see 
as much cause to be thankful for, as for the most 
brilliant scenes in my life. 

I have also applied to myself what Jacob said on his 
return from Padan Aram. " With my staff I went 
over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands ;" 
when I consider how little I carried with me to 
Needham and Nantwich, how much more I had to 
carry to Warrington, how much more still to Leeds, 
how much more than that to Calne, and then to Bir- 

Yet, frequently as I have changed my situation, 


112 Memoirs of 

and always for the better, I can truly say that I never 
wished for any change on my own account. I should 
have been contented even at Needham, if I could 
have been unmolested, and had bare necessaries. 
This freedom from anxiety was remarkable in my 
father, and therefore is in a manner hereditary to 
me ; but it has been much increased by reflection ; 
having frequently observed, especially with respect 
to christian ministers, how often it has contributed 
t i embitter their lives, without being of any use to 
them. Some attention to the improvement of a 
man's circumstances is, no doubt, right, because 
no man can tell what occasion he may have for mo- 
ney, ^specially if he have children, and therefore I 
do not recommend my example to others. But I 
am thankful to that good providence which always 
took more care of me than I ever took of myself. 

Hitherto I have had great reason to be thankful 
with respect to my children, as they have a prospect 
of enjoying a good share of health, and a sufficient 
capacity for performing the duties of their stations. 
They have also good dispositions, and as much as 
could be expected at their age, a sense of religion. 
But as I hope they will live to see this work, I say 


Dr. Priestley. 113 

the less on this subject, and I hope they will consi- 
der what I say in their favour as an incitement to 
exert themselves to act a christian and useful part 
in life ; that the care that I and their mother have 
taken of their instruction may not be lost upon them, 
and that they may secure a happy meeting with us 
in a better world. 

I esteem it a singular happiness to have lived in 
an age and country, in which I have been at full li- 
berty both to investigate, and by preaching and writ- 
ing to propagate, religious truth ; that though the 
freedom I have used for this purpose was for some 
time disadvantageous to me, it was not long so, 
and that my present situation is such that I can with 
the greatest openness urge whatever appears to me 
to be the truth of the gospel, not only without giving 
the least offence, but with the intire approbation of 
those with whom I am particularly connected. 

As to the dislike which I have drawn upon my- 
self by my writings, whether that of the Calvinistic 
party, in or out of the church of England, those 
who rank with rational dissenters (but who have 
been exceedingly offended at my carrying my in- 
quiries farther than thsy wished any person to do) 

H or 

114 Memoirs of 

or whether they be unbelievers, I am thankful that 
it gives less disturbance to me than it does to them- 
selves; and that their dislike is much more than 
compensated by the cordial esteem and approbation 
of my conduct by a few, whose minds are congenial 
to my own, and especially that the number of such 
person increases. [Birmingham, 1787. 

A Continuation of the Memoirs, written at Northum- 
berland in America in the beginning of the year 

V\ HEN I wrote the preceding part of these 
Memoirs I was happy as must have appeared in 
the course of them, m the prospect of spending the 
remainder of my life at Birmingham, where I had 
every advantage for pursuing my studies, both phi- 
losophical and theological ; but it pleased the sove- 
reign disposer of all things to appoint for me other 
removals, and the manner in which they were brought 
about were more painful to me than the removals 
themselves. I am far, however, from questioning 
the wisdom or the goodness of the appointments re- 
specting myself or others. 

Dr. Priestley. 115 

To resume the account of my pursuits where the 
Former part of the Memoirs left it, I must observe 
that, in the prosecution of my experiments, I was led 
to maintain the doctrine of phlogiston against Mr. 
Lavoisier and other chemists in France, whose opi- 
nions were adopted not only by almost all the philo- 
sophers of that country, but by those in England 
and Scotland also. My friends, however, of the 
lunar society were never satisfied with the Anti-phlo- 
gistic doctrine. My experiments and observations 
on this subject were published in various papers in 
the Philosophical Transactions. At Birmingham I 
also published a new edition of my publications on 
the subject of air, and others connected with it, re- 
ducimr the six volumes to three, which, with his 
consent, I dedicated to the prince of Wales. 

In theology I continued my defences of Unitarian- 
ism, until it appeared to myself and my friends that 
my antagonists produced nothing to which it was of 
any consequence to reply. But I did not, as I had 
proposed, publish any address to the bishops, or to 
the legislature, on the subject. The former I wrote, 
but did not publish. I left it, however, in the hands 
of Mr. Belsham when I came to America, that he 

H 2 might 

U6 Memoirs of 

might dispose of it as he should think proper. 

The pains that I took to ascertain the state of early 
opinions concerning Jesus Christ, and the great mis- 
apprehensions I perceived in all the ecclesiastical his- 
torians, led me to undertake a General History of the 
christian church to the fall of the Western empire > 
which accordingly I wrote in two volumes octavo, 
and dedicated to Mr. Shore. This work I mean 
to continue. 

At Birmingham I wrote the second part of my 
Letters to a philosophical Unbeliever, and dedicated 
the whole to Mr. Tayleur of Shrewsbury, who had 
afforded me most material assistance in the publica- 
tion of many of my theological works, without 
w hich, the sale being inconsiderable, I should not 
have been able to publish them at all. 

Before I left Birmingham I preached a funeral 
sermon for my friend Dr. Price, and another for Mr. 
Robinson of Cambridge, w ho died with us en a visit 
to preach our annual charity school sermon. I also 
preached the last annual sermon to the friends of 
tire college at Hackney. All these three sermons 
were published. 

About two years before I left Birmingham the 


Dr. Priestley. 117 

question about the test act was much agitated both 
in and out of parliament. This, however, was alto- 
gether without any concurrence of mine. I only 
delivered, and published, a sermon on the 5th of 
November 1789, recommending the most peaceable 
method of pursuing our object. Mr. Madan, how- 
ever, the most respectable clergyman in the town, 
preaching and publishing a most inflammatory ser- 
mon on the subject, inveighing in the bitterest man- 
ner against the Dissenters in general, and myself in 
particular, I addressed a number of familiar letters, 
to the inhabitants of Birmingham in our defence. 
This produced a reply from him, and other letters 
from me. All mine were written in an ironical and 
rather a pleasant manner, and in some of the last of 
them I introduced a farther reply to Mr. Burn, ano- 
ther clergyman in Birmingham, who had addressed 
to me letters on the infallibility of the testimony of the 
Apostles concerning the person of Christ, after replying 
to his first set of Letters, in a separate publication. 

From these small pieces I was far from expecting 
any serious consequences. But the Dissenters in 
general being very obnoxious to the court, and it 
being imagined, though without any reason, that I 

H3 had 

118 Memoirs of 

had been the chief promoter of the measures which 
gave them offence, the clergy, not only in Birming- 
ham, but through all England, seemed to make it 
their business, by writing in the public papers, by 
preaching, and other methods, to inflame the minds 
of the people against me. And on occasion of the 
celebration of the anniversary of the French revoluti- 
on on July 14th, 1791, by several of my friends, 
but with which I had little to do, a mob encouraged 
by some persons in power, first burned the meeting 
house in which I preached, then another meeting 
house in the town, and then my dwelling house, de- 
molishing my library, apparatus, and, as far as they 
could, every thing belonging to me. They also 
burned, or much damaged, the houses of many 
Dissenters, chiefly my friends ; the particulars of 
which I need not recite, as they will be found in two 
Appeals which I published on the subject written pre- 
sently after the riots. 

Being in some personal danger on this occasion, 
I went to London ; and so violent was the spirit of 
party which then prevailed, that I believe I could 
hardly have been safe in any other place. There, 
however, I was perfectly so, though I continued to 


Dr. Priestley. 119 

be an object of troublesome attention until I left the 
country altogether. It shewed no small degree of 
courage and friendship in Mr. William Vaughan to 
receive me into his house, and also in Mr. Salte, 
with whom I spent a month at Tottenham. But it 
shewed more in Dr. Price's congregation at Hack- 
ney, to invite me to succeed him, which they did, 
though not unanimously, some time after my arrival 
in London. 

In this situation I found myself as happy- as I had 
been at Birmingham, and contrary to general ex- 
pectation, I opened my lectures to young persons 
with great success, bei -.=:■■■ -tended by many from 
London; and though I lose seme of the hearers, I 
left the congregation in a better situation than that 
in which I found it. 

On the whole, 1 spent my time even more happily 
at Hackney than ever I had done before ; having 
every advantage for my philosophical and theological 
studies, in sonic respect superior to what I had en- 
joyed at Birmingham, especially from my easy access 
to Mr. Lindsey, and my frequent intercourse with 
Mr. Belsham, professor of divinity in the New Col- 
lege, near which I lived. Never, on this side the 

H 4 grave, 

120 Memoirs of 

grave, do I expect to enjoy myself so much as I did 
by the fire side of Mr. Lindsey, conversing with 
him and Mrs. Lindsey on theological and other sub, 
jects, or in my frequent walks with Mr. Belsham, 
whooc views cf most important subjects were, like 
Mr. Lindsey 'i, the same with my own. 

I found, however, my society much restricted 
with respect to my philosophical acquaintance ; most 
oi the members of the Royal Society shunning me 
on account of my religious or political opinions, so 
that I at length withdrew myself from them, and 
gave my reasons for so doing in the Preface to my 
Observations and Experiments on the generation of 
air from water, which I published at Hackney. 
lor, v, ith the assistance of my friends, I had in a 
great measure replaced my Apparatus, and had re- 
sumed my cxpeiiments, though after the loss of 
near two years. 

Living in the neighbourhood of the New College, 
I voiuutaiily undertook to dcuver the lectures to the 
pu^uis on the sui.jcct of History and General policy y 
I composed at Warrington, and also on 
£j?j .1 j. jiikcci'iy and Clicmistry, the Heads 

ci which i drew up fci ius purpose, and afterwards 


Dr. Priestley. 1-1 

published. la being useful to this Institution I 
found a source of considerable satisfaction to myself. 
Indeed, 1 have always had a high degree af enjoy- 
ment iii lecturing to young persons, though more 
Cii theological subjects than on any other. 

After the riots in Birmingham I wrote an Appeal 
to the Public on the subject, and that being replied 
to by the clergy of the place, I wrote a second part, 
to which, though they had pledged themselves to 
do it, they made no reply ; so that, in fact the cri- 
minality of the magistrates, and other principal High- 
church men at Birmingham, in promoting the riot, 
remains acknowledged. Indeed, many circumstan- 
ces, which have appeared since that time, shew that 
the friends of the court, if not the prime ministers 
themselves, were the favourers of that riot ; having, 
no doubt, thought to intimidate the friends of liber- 
ty by the measure. 

To my Appeal I subjoined various Addresses* 


* Many of these addresses have been published already. In the 
appendix to the present life (No. 7. ) will be given an arranged list 
tf the addresses to Dr. Priestley from various bodies of men at vari- 
ous times of his life ; they illustrate the following positions so ho- 

122 Memoirs of 

that were sent to me from several descriptions of 
persons in England, and abroad ; and from them I 
will not deny that I received much satisfaction, as it 
appeared that the friends of liberty, civil and religi- 
ous, were of opinion that I was a sufferer in that 
cause. From France I received a considerable 
number of Addresses ; and when the present Nati- 
onal Convention was called, I was invited by many 
of the departments to be a member of it. But I 


nourable to his character, and so necessary to a just view of it. 1st 
That wherever he officiated as a dissenting minister, he never quitted 
his situation but with the sincere regTets of these among- whom he 
had resided, and with parting testimonies of their affectionate appro- 
bation of his conduct. 2dly. That the riots at Birmingham called 
forth such abundant testimonies in favour of his moral conduct and 
eminent usefulness, that the promoters of those riots whether in church 
or state can have no palliation in the eye of a discerning public for 
their proceedings, so far as he was the object of them. Those only 
use violence in opposition to argument who have no argument to use. 
Sdly. That his quitting England for America, was regarded as a nati- 
onal loss to Great Britain, and the circumstances which induced it, a 
national disgrace. 4thly. That his reception in this country was as 
honourable as his friends had reason to expect : And his demeanour 
since his residence here, has been such as to gain him encreascd re- 
putation and respect, am?ng those who knew nothing of him person- 
ally before his arrival. T. C. 

Dr. Priestley. 123 

thought myself more usefully employed at home, 
and that I was but ill qualified for a business which 
required knowledge which none but a native of the 
country could possess ; and therefore declined the 
honour that was proposed to me. 

But no addresses gave me so much satisfaction 
as those from my late congregation, and especially of 
the young persons belonging to it, who had attended 
my lectures. They are a standing testimony of the 
zeal and fidelity with which I did my duty with re- 
spect to them, and which I value highly. 

Besides congratulatory addresses, I received much 
pecuniary assistance from various persons, and bo- 
dies of men, which more than compensated for my 
pecuniary losses, though what was awarded me at 
the Assizes fell two thousand pounds short of them. 
But my brother-in-law, Mr. John Wilkinson, from 
whom I had not at that time any expectation, in 
consequence of my son's leaving his employment, 
was the most generous on the occasion. Without 
any solicitation, he immediately sent me five hun- 
dred pounds, and afterwards transferred to me ten 
thousand pounds which he had deposited in the 
French funds, and until that be productive, he allows 

me two hundred pounds per annum. 


124 Memoirs or 

After the riots, I published my Letters to the 
Swedetiborgian Society, whieh I had composed, and 
prepared for the press just before. 

Mr. Wakefield living in the neighbourhood of the 
College, and publishing at this time his objections 
to public Ivors/tip, they made a great impression on 
many of our young men, and in his Preface he re- 
flected much on the character of Dr. Price. On 
both these accounts I thought myself called upon to 
reply to him, which I did in a series of Letters to a 
young man. But though he made several angry re- 
plies, I never noticed any of them. In this situation 
I also answered Mr. Evanson's Observations on the 
dissonance of the Evangelists in a second set of Letters 
to a young man. He also replied to me, but I was 
satisfied with what I had done, and did not continue 
the controversy. 

Besides the sermon which I delivered on my accept- 
ance of the invitation to the meeting at Hackney, in 
the preface to which I gave a detailed account of my 
system of catechizing, I published two Fast sermons 
for the years 1793 and 1794, in the latter of which I 
gave my ideas of antient prophecies compared with 
the then state of Europe, and in the preface to it I 


Dr. Priestley. 125 

gave an account of my reasons for leaving the coun- 
try. I also published a Farewell sermon.* 

But the most important of my publications in this 
situation were a series of Letters to the Philosophers 
and Politicians of France on the subject of Religion. 
I thought that the light in which I then stood in that 
country gave me some advantage in my attempts to 
enforce the evidence of natural and revealed religion. 
I also published a set of sermons on the evidences of 
revelation, which I first delivered by public notice, 
and the delivery of which was attended by great 
numbers- They were printed just before I left Eng- 

As the reasons for this step in my conduct are gi- 
ven at large in the preface to my Fast sermon, I shall 
not dwell upon them here. The bigotry of the 
country in general made it impossible for me to place 
my sons in it to any advantage. William had been 
some time in France, and on the breaking out of the 
troubles in that country he had embarked for Ameri- 
ca, where his two brothers met him. My own situ- 

* These reasons, as shewing the progress and state of his mind that 
induced this naw xra of his life, will be inserted hereafter. 

126 Memoirs of 

ation, if not hazardous, was become unpleasant, so 
that I thought my removal would be of more service 
to the cause of truth than my longer stay in England. 
At length, therefore, with the approbation of all my 
friends, without exceprion, but with great reluc- 
tance on my own part, I came to that resolution ; I 
being at a time of life in which I could not expect 
much satisfaction as to friends and society, compara- 
ble to that which I left, in which the resumption of 
my philosophical pursuits must be attended with 
great disadvantage, and in which success in my still 
more favourite pursuit, the propagation of unitarian- 
ism, was still more uncertain. It was also painful to 
me to leave my daughter, Mr. Finch having the 
greatest aversion to leave his relations and friends in 

At the time of my leaving England my son in con- 
junction with Mr. Cooper, and other English emi- 
grants, had a scheme for a large settlement for the 
friends of liberty in general near the head of the Sus- 
qu ehanna in Pennsylvania. And taking it for granted 
that it would be carried into effect, after landing at 
New- York, I went to Philadelphia, and thence came 
to Northumberland, a town the nearest to the propos- 

Dr. Priestley. 127 

ed settlement, thinking to reside there un^il some 
progress had been made in it. The settlement was 
given up ; but being here, and my wife ind myself 
liking the place, I have determined to take up my re- 
sidence here, though subject to many disadvantages. 
Philadelphia was excessively expensive,and this com- 
paratively a cheap place ; and my son's, settling in the 
neighbourhood, will be less exposed to temptation, 
and more likely to form habits of sobriety and indus- 
try. They will also be settled at much less expence 
than in or near a large town. We hope, after some 
time, to be joined by a few of our friends from Eng- 
land, that a readier communication will be opened 
with Philadelphia, and that the place will improve, 
and become more eligible in other respects. 

When I was at sea, I wrote some observations on 
the cause of the present prevalence of infidelity, which 
I published, and prefixed to a new edition of the 
Letters to the Philosophers and Politicians of ' Fi ance. 
I have also published my Fast and Farewell sermons, 
and my small tracts in defence of unitarianism, also a 
Continuation of those Letters, and a third part of Let- 
ters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, in answer to Mr. 
Paine' s Are of Reason. 


12 3 Memoirs of 

The observations on the prevalence of infidelity I 
have much enlarged, and intend soon to print ; but I 
am chiefly employed on the Continuation of my His- 
tory of the christian church. 

Northumberland, March 24, 1795, in vhich I 
have completed the sixty second year of my age. 








[Written by his Son Joseph Priestley.] 

X HUS far the narrative is from my father's manu- 
script, and I regret extremely, with the reader, that 
it falls to my lot to give an account of the latter peri- 
od of his valuable life. 

I entertained hopes at one time, that he would 
have continued it himself; and he was frequently re- 
quested to do so, by me and many of his friends in 
the course of the year preceding his death. He 
had then nearly compleated all the literary works he 
had in view, he had arrived at that period of life 

I when, 

^30 Continuation of 

v hen, in imitation of his friend Mr. Lindsey, he had 
determined not to preach again in public, and be- 
yond which he probably would not have ventured to 
publish any work without first subjecting it to the 
inspection of some judicious friend. 

He was requested also, in imitation of Courayer, 
to add at the close of his Memoirs a summary of his 
religious opinions. This would have counteracted 
the suspicions entertained by some, that they had 
undergone a considerable change since his coming 
to America ; and it was thought by his friends, that 
such a brief and simple statement of all that appeared 
to him essential to the christian belief, and the chris- 
tian character, would attract the attention of many 
readers previously indisposed to religion altogether, 
from not understanding its real nature, and judging 
of it only from the corrupt, adulterated, and compli- 
cated state, in which it is professed in all countries 
called christian. Unbelievers in general have no 
conception of the perfect coincidence of Christianity 
with rational philosophy, of the sublime views it af- 
fords of the divine benevolence, and how powerfully 
it acts to promote the pleasures and lessen the evils 
of the present life, at the same time that it holds out 


the Memoirs. 131 

to us a certain prospect of a future and endless state 
of enjoyment. It was suggested to him also, that 
as his society through life had been singularly varied 
and extensive, and his opportunities of attaining a ge- 
neral knowledge of the world, and a particular know- 
ledge of eminent political and literary characters, 
very great, it would contribute much to the instruc- 
tion and amusement of those into whose hands his 
Memoirs should fall, if they were accompanied with 
anecdotes of the principal characters with whom he 
had been acquainted. For he had a fund of a- 
necdote which he was never backward to produce 
for the amusement of his friends, as occasions serv- 
ed for introducing it. But his relations were never 
sarcastic or ironical, or tended to disparage the 
characters of the persons spoken of, unless on sub., 
jects of manifest importance to the interests of soci- 

He meant to have complied with the above sugges- 
tions, but being at that time very busily employed a- 
bout his Comparison, and thinkinghis Memoirs of lit- 
tle value compared with the works about which he 
wasthen engaged, he putoif the completion of his nar- 
rative., until his other works should be ready for the 

12 P^ss. 

132 Continuation of 

press. Unfortunately this was too late. The work 
he had in hand was not compleated until the 22d Ja- 
nuary, when he was very weak and suffered greatly 
from his disorder, and he died on the 6th of Febru- 
ary following : 

The reader will therefore make allowance for the 
difference between what these Memoirs might have 
been, and what they now are ; and particularly for 
the part which I venture to lay before the public as 
a continuation of his own account. 

The reasons that induced him to quit England, 
and the progress of his opinions and inclinations re- 
specting that last important sera in his life, have been, 
but briefly stated in the preceding pages by himself. 
But as many may peruse these Memoirs, into whose 
hands his appeal to the public, occasioned by the 
riots at Birmingham, and his Fast sermon, in which 
he assigns at length his reasons for leaving his native 
country, are not likely to fall ; I think it right to 
present to the readers, in his own words the history 
of the motives that impelled him to exchange his re- 
sidence in England for one in this country. 

The disgraceful riots at Birmingham were certain- 
ly the chief cause that first induced my father to 


the Memoirs. 133 

think of leaving England, though at the time of his 
writing the second part of the Appeal, in August 
1792, he had not come to any determination on the 
subject. This appears from the following passage 
which as it shews the progress of his discontent, and 
likewise the true state of his political opinions, par- 
ticularly in relation to the English form of govern- 
ment I shall quote. — 

»' In this almost universal prevalence of a spirit so 
extremely hostile to me and my friends, and which 
would be gratified by my destruction, It cannot be 
any matter of surprise, that a son of mine should 
wish to abandon a country in which his father has 
been used as I have been, especially when it is con- 
sidered that this son was present at the riot in Birw 
mingham, exerting himself all the dreadful night of 
the 14th of July, to save what he could of my most 
valuable property ; that in consequence of this his 
life was in imminent danger, and another young 
man was nearly killed because he was mistaken for 
him. This would probably have been his fate, if 
a friend had not almost perforce kept him concealed 
some days, so that neither myself nor his mother 
knew what was become of him. I had not, how- 

1 3 ever, 

134 Continuation of 

ever, the ambition to court the honour that has 
been shewn him by the national assembly of France, 
and even declined the proposal of his naturaliza- 
tion. At the most, I supposed it would have been 
done without any eclat; and I knew nothing of its 
being done in so very honourable a way until I saw 
the account in the public newspapers. To what- 
ever country this son of mine shall choose to attach 
himself, I trust that, from the good principles, and 
the spirit, that he has hitherto shewn, he will dis- 
charge the duties of a good citizen. " 

" As to myself, I cannot be supposed to feel much 
attachment to a country in which I have neither 
found protection, nor redress. But I am too old, 
and my habits too fixed, to remove, as I own I should 
otherwise have been disposed to do, to France, or 
America. The little that I am capable of doing must 
be in England, where I shall therefore continue, as 
long as it shall please the supreme Disposer of all 
things to permit me*. 

* * Since this was written, I have myself, without any solicitation^ 
on my part, been made a citizen of France, and moreover elected a. 
member of the present Conventional Assembly. These, I scruple not 
to avow, I consider as the greatest of honours ; though, for the rea- 
sons which are now made public, I have declined accepting the 

the Memoirs. 135 

It might have been thought that, having written 
so much in defence of revelation, and of Chris- 
tianity in general, more perhaps than all the clergy 
of the church of England now living ; this defence 
of a common cause would have been received as some 
atonement for my demerits in writing against civil 
establishments of Christianity, and particular doc- 
trines. But had I been an open enemy of all religi- 
on, the animosity against me could not have been 
greater than it is. Neither Mr. Hume nor Mr. Gib- 
bon was a thousandth part so obnoxious to the cler- 
gy as I am ; so little respect have my enemies for 
Christianity itself* compared with what they have for 
their emoluments from it." 

" As to my supposed hostility to the principles of 
the civil constitution of tins country, there has been 
no pretence whatever for charging me with any 
tiling of the kind. Besides that the very catalogue 
of my publications will prove that my life has been 
devoted to literature, and chiefly to natural philo- 
sophy and theology, which have not left me any- 
leisure for factious politics ; in the few things that I 
have written of a political nature, I have been an 
avowed advocate for our mixed government by 

1 4 King* 

1S6 Continuation of 

King, Lords, and Commons; but because I have ob- 
jected to the ecclesiastical part of it, and to par- 
ticular religious tenets, I have been industriously- 
represented as openly seditious, and endeavouring 
the overthrow of every thing that is fixed, the enemy 
of all order, and of all government." 

" Every publication which bears my name is in 
favour of our present form of government. But if 
I had not thought so highly of it, and had seen rea- 
son for preferring a more republican form, and 
had openly advanced that opinion ; I do not know 
that the proposing to free discussion a system of go- 
vernment different from that of England, even to 
Englishmen, is any crime, according to the existing 
laws of this country. It has always been thought, 
at least, that our constitution authorises the free pro- 
posal, and discussion, of all theoretical principles 
whatever, political ones not excepted. And though 
I might now reconunend a very different form of go- 
vernment to a people who had no previous preju- 
4ices or habits, the case is very different with re- 
spect to one that has ; and it is the duty of every 
good citizen to maintain that government of any 
country which the majority of its inhabitants ap- 

the Memoirs. 137 

prove, whether he himself should otherwise prefer it, 
or not." 

" This, however, is all that can in reason be re. 
quired of any man. To demand more would be as 
absurd as to oblige every man, by the law of mar- 
riage, to maintain that his particular wife was ab- 
solutely the handsomest, and best tempered woman 
in the world ; whereas it is surely sufficient if a man 
behave well to his wife, and discharge the duties of 
a good husband." 

" A very great majority of Englishmen, I am well 
persuaded, are friends to what are called high max- 
ims of government. They would choose to have 
the power of the crown rather enlarged than re- 
duced, and would rather see all fhe Dissenters ba- 
nished than any reformation made in the church. 
A dread of every thing tending to republicanism is 
manifestly increased of late years, and is likely to 
increase still more. The very term is become one 
of the most opprobrious in the English language. 
The clergy (whose near alliance with the court, and 
the present royal family, after having been almost a 
century hostile to them, is a remarkable event in 
the present reign) have contributed not a little to 


138 Continuation of 


that leaning to arbitrary power in the crown which 

has lately been growing upon us. They preach up 
the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance 
with as little disguise as their ancestors did in the 
reign of the Stuarts, and their adulation of the king 
and of the minister is abject in the extreme. Both 
Mr. Madan's sermon and Mr. Burn's reply to my 
Appeal discover the same spirit ; and any sentiment 
in favour of liberty that is at all bold and manly, 
such as, till of late, was deemed becoming Eng- 
lishmen and the disciples of Mr. Locke, is now re- 
probated as seditious." 

u In these circumstances, it would be nothing less 
than madness seriously to attempt a change in the 
constitution, and I hope I am not absolutely insane. 
I sincerely wish my countrymen, as part of the hu- 
man race (though, I own, I now feel no particular 
attachment to them on any other ground) the un- 
disturbed enjoyment of that form of government 
which they so evidently approve ; and as I have no 
favour to ask of them, or of their governors, besides 
mere protection, as to a stranger, while I violate no 
known law, and have not this to ask for any long 
term, I hope it will be granted me. If not, I must, 


thz Memoirs. 139 

like many others, in all ages and all nations, submit 
to whatever the supreme Being, whose eye is upon 
us all, and who I believe intends, and will in his 
own time bring about, the good of all, shall ap- 
point, and by their means execute." [Appeal part 
II page 109. fcfa] 

The rising disinclination which the preceding pas- 
sage shews had taken place in my father's mind 
towards a longer residence in England, became con- 
firmed by various circumstances, particularly the 
determination of his sons to emigrate to America. 
These, together with other reasons, that finally in- 
fluenced his conduct on the subject of removing to 
this country, are stated at large as I have before ob- 
served in the preface to his Fast sermon for the year 
1794 and I cannot so properly give them as in his 
own words. 

" THIS discourse, and those on the Evidences of 
Divine Revelation, which will be published about 
the same time, being the last of my labours in this 
country, I hope my friends, and the public, will in- 
dulge me while I give the reasons of their being the 
last, in consequence of my having at length, after 


140 Continuation of 

much hesitation, and now with reluctance, come to 
a resolution to leave this kingdom. 

After the riots in Birmingham, it was the expec 
tation, and evidently the wish, of many persons, that 
I should immediately fly to France, or America. 
But I had no consciousness of guilt to induce me 
to fly my country*. On the contrary, I came di- 
rectly to London, and instantly, by means of my 
friend Mr. Russell, signified to the king's ministers, 
that I was there, and ready, if they thought proper, 


• If, instead of flying from lawless violence, I had been flying 
from public justice, I could not have been pursued with more ran- 
cour, nor could my friends have been more anxious for my safety. 
One man, who happened to see me on horseback on one of the nights 
in which I escaped from Birmingham, expressed his regret that h« 
had not taken me, expecting probably some considerable reward, as 
he said, it was so easy for him to have done it. My friends earnestly 
advised me to disguise myself as I was going to London. But all 
that was done in that way was taking a place for me in the mail 
coach, which I entered at Worcester, in another name than my own. 
However, the friend who had the courage to receive me in London 
had thought it necessary to provide a dress that should disguise me, 
and also a method of making my escape, in case the house should 
have been attacked on my account ; and for some time my friends 
would not suffer me to appear in the streets. 

the Memoirs. 141 

to be interrogated on the subject of the riot. But 
no notice was taken of the message. 

Ill treated as I thought I had been, not merely by 
the populace of Birmingham, for they were the mere 
tools of their superiors, but by the country in gene- 
ral, which evidently exulted in our sufferings, and 
afterwards by the representatives of the nation, who 
refused to inquire into the cause of them, I own I 
was not without deliberating upon the subject of 
emigration ; and several flattering proposals were 
made me, especially from France, which was then 
at peace within itself, and with all the world ; and I 
was at one time much inclined to go thither, on ac- 
count of its nearness to England, the agreeableness 
of its climate, and my having many friends there. 

But I likewise considered that, if I went thither 
I should have no employment of the kind to 
which I had been accustomed ; and die season 
of active life not being, according to the course 
of nature, quite over, I wished to make as much 
use of it as I could. I therefore determined to 
continue in England, exposed as I was not only to 
unbounded obloquy and insult, but to every kind 
of outrage ; and after my invitation to succeed my 


142 Continuation of 

friend Dr Price, I had no hesitation about it. Ac- 
cordingly I took up my residence where I now 
am, though so prevalent was the idea of my inse- 
curity, that I was not able to take the house in 
my own name ; and when a friend of mine took it 
in his y it was with much difficulty that, after some 
time, the landlord was prevailed upon to transfer 
the lease to me- He expressed his apprehensions, 
not only of the house that I occupied, being de- 
molished, but also a capital house in which he 
himself resides, at the distance of no less than 
twenty miles from London, whither he supposed 
the rioters Mould go next, merely for suffering me 
to live in a house of his. 

But even this does not give such an idea of the 
danger that not only myself, but every person, and 
every thing, that had the slightest connection with 
me, were supposed to be in, as the following. The 
managers of one of the principal charities among the 
Dissenters applied to me to preach their annual ser- 
mon, and I had consented. But the treasurer a 
man of fortune, who knew nothing more of me than 
my name, was so much alarmed at it, that he de- 
clared he could not sleep. I therefore, to his great 

rfli^f. declined preaching at all. 


the Memoirs. 143 

When it was known that I was settled where 
I now am, several of my friends, who lived near 
me, were seriously advised to remove their papers, 
and other most valuable effects, to some place of 
greater safety in London. On the 14th of July, 
1792, it was taken for granted by many of the 
neighbours, that my house was to come down, 
just as at Birmingham the year before. When the 
Hackney association was formed, several servants 
in the neighbourhood actually removed their goods ; 
and when there was some political meeting at the 
house of Mr. Breillat, though about two miles from 
my house, a woman whose daughter was servant 
in the house contiguous to mine, came to her mis- 
tress, to entreat that she might be out of the way ; 
and it was not without much difficulty that she 
was pacified, and prevailed upon to let her continue 
in the house, her mistress saying that she was as 
safe as herself. 

On several other occasions the neighbourhood 
has been greatly alarmed on account of my being 
so near them. Nor was this without apparent 
reason. I could name a person, and to appear- 
ance a reputable tradesman, who, in the company 


144 Continuation of 

of his friends, and in the hearing of one of my late 
congregation at Birmingham, but without know- 
ing him to be such, declared that, in case of any 
disturbance, they would immediately come to 
Hackney, evidently, for the purpose of mischief. 
In this state of things, it is not to be wondered at, 
that of many servants who were recommended to 
me, and some that were actually hired, very few 
could, for a long time, be prevailed upon to live 
with me. 

These facts not only shew how general was the 
idea of my particular insecurity in this country ; 
but what is of much more consequence, and highly 
interesting to the country at large, an idea of the 
general disposition to rioting and violence that pre- 
vails in it, and that the Dissenters are the objects of 
it. Mr. Pitt very justly observed, in his speech on 
the subject of the riots at Birmingham, that it was 
" the effervescence of the public mind." Indeed 
the effervescible matter has existed in this country 
ever since the civil wars in the time of Charles I. 
and it was particularly apparent in the reign of Queen 
Anne. But the power of government under the 
former princes of the House of Hanover prevented 


the Memoirs. 145 

its doing any mischief. The late events shew that 
this power is no longer exerted as it used to be, but 
that, on the contrary there prevails an idea, well or 
ill founded, that tumultuary proceedings against 
Dissenters will not receive any effectual discourage- 
ment. After what has taken place with respect to 
Birmingham, all idea of much hazard for insulting 
and abusing the Dissenters is entirely vanished ; 
whereas the disposition to injure the Catholics was 
effectually checked by the proceedings of the year 
1780. From that time they have been safe, and I 
rejoice in it. But from the year 1791, the Dissen- 
ters have been more exposed to insult and outrage 
than ever. 

Having fixed myself at Clapton ; unhinged as 
I had been, and having lost the labour of several 
years ; yet flattering myself that I should end my 
days here, I took a long lease of my house, and ex- 
pended a considerable sum in improving it. I also 
determined, with the assistance of my friends, to 
resume my philosophical and other pursuits; and 
after an interruption amounting to about two years, 
it was with a pleasure that I cannot describe, that I 
entered my new laboratory, and began the most com* 

K mon 

146 Continuation of 

mon preparatory processes, with a view to some 
original inquiries. With what success I have la- 
boured, the public has already in some measure 
seen, and may see more hereafter. 

But though I did not choose (notwithstanding I 
found myself exposed to continual insult) to leave 
my native country, I found it necessary to provide 
for my sons elsewhere. My eldest son was settled 
in a business, which promised to be very advantage- 
ous, at Manchester ; but his partner though a man 
of liberality himself, informed him, on perceiving the 
general prevalence of the spirit which produced the 
riots in Birmingham, that, owing to his relationship 
to me y he was under the necessity of proposing a se- 
paration, which accordingly took place. 

On this he had an invitation to join another con- 
nexion, in a business in which the spirit of party 
could not have much affected him ; but he declined 
it. And after he had been present at the assizes at 
Warwick, he conceived such an idea of this country, 
that I do not believe any proposal, however acF- 
vantageous, would have induced him to continue in 
it; so much was he affected on perceiving his father 
treated as I had been. 



Determining to go to America, where he had no- 
prospect but that of being a farmer, he wished to 
spend a short time with a person who had greatly dis- 
tinguished himself in that way, and one who from 
his own general principles, and his friendship for 
myself, would have given him the best advice and 
assistance in his power. He, however, declined it, 
and acknowledged some time after, that had it been 
known, as it must have been, to his landlord, that 
he had a son of mine with him, he feared he should 
have been turned out of his farm. 

My second son who was present both at the riot, 
and the assizes, felt more indignation still, and wil- 
lingly listened to a proposal to settle in France ; and 
there his reception was but too flattering. However, 
on the breaking out of the war with this country, 
all mercantile prospects being suspended, he wished 
to go to America. There his eldest and youngest 
brother have joined him, and they are now looking 
cut for a settlement, having as yet no fixed views. 

The necessity I was under of sending my sons 

out of this country, was my principal inducement 

to send the little property that I had out of it too ; so 

that I had nothing in England besides my library, 

K 2 apparatus 

148 Continuation op 

apparatus, and household goods. By this, I felt my- 
self greatly relieved, it being of little consequence 
where a man already turned sixty ends his days. 
Whatever good or evil I have been capable of, is now 
chiefly dene ; and I trust that the same conscious- 
ness of integrity, which has supported me hitherto, 
will carry me through any thing that may yet be re- 
served for me. Seeing, however, no great prospect 
of doing much good, or having much enjoyment, 
here, I am now preparing to follow my sons ; hoping 
to be of some use to them in their present unsettled 
state, and that Providence may yet, advancing in 
years as I am, find me some sphere of usefulness a- 
long with them. 

As to the great odium that I have incurred, the 
charge of sedition, or my being an enemy to the con- 
stitution or peace of my country, is a mere pretence 
for it ; though it has been so much urged, that it is 
now generally believed, and all attempts to unde- 
ceive the public with respect to it avail nothing at 
all. The whole course of my studies, from early 
life, shews how little politics of any kind have been 
my object. Indeed to have written so much as I 
have in theology, and to have done so much in expe- 

the Memoirs. 149 

ritnental philosophy, and at the same time to have had 
my mind occupied, as it is supposed to have been, 
with factious politics, I must have had faculties more 
than human. Let any person only cast his eye over 
the long list of my publications, and he will see that 
they relate almost wholly to theology, philosophy, or 
general literature. 

I did, however, when I was a younger man, and 
before it was in my power to give much attention to 
philosophical pursuits, write a small anonymous 
political pamphlet, on the State of Liberty in this 
Country, about the time of Mr. Wiikes's election 
for Middlesex, which gained me the acquaintance, 
and I may say the friendship, of Sir George S;<\ 
and which I had the happiness to enjoy a. Io ig as 
he lived. 

At the request also of Dr. Franklin and Dr. 
Fothergill, I wrote an address to the Di sen ers oil 
the subject of the approaching rupture with Ame- 
rica, a pamphlet which Sir George Savile, and my 
other friends, circulated in great numbers, and it 
was thought with some effect. 

After this I entirely ceased to write any thing on 
the subject of politics, except as far as the business 

K3 of 

150 Continuation or 

of the Test Aci, and of Civil Establishments of Reli- 
gion, had a connection with politics. And thou gh T 
at the recommendation of Dr. Price, I was presently- 
after this taken into the family of the Marquis of 
Landsdowne,. and I entered into almost all his views, 
as thinking them just and liberal, I never wrote a 
single political pamphlet, or even a paragraph in a 
newspaper, all the time that I was with him, which 
was seven years. 

I never preached a political sermon in my life ; 
unless such as, I believe all Dissenters usually 
preach on the fifth of November, in favour of civil 
and religious liberty, may be said to be political. A i id 
on these occasions, I am confident, that I never ad- 
vanced any sentiment but such as, until of late years, 
would have tended to recommend, rather than ren- 
der me obnoxious, to those who direct the admini- 
stration of this country. And the doctrines which 
I adopted when young, and which were even popu- 
lar then (except with the clergy, who were at that 
time generally disaffected to the family on the 
throne) I cannot abandon, merely because the times 
are so changed, that they are now become unpopular, 
and the expression and communication of them ha- 


the Memoirs. 151 

Farther, though I by no means disapprove of so- 
cieties for political information, such as are now 
every where discountenanced, and generally sup- 
pressed, I never was a member of any of them ; nor, 
indeed, did I ever attend any public meeting, if I 
could decently avoid it, owing to habits acquired in 
studious and retired life. 

From a mistake of my talents and disposition, I 
was invited by many of the departments in France, 
to represent them in the present National Conven- 
tion, after I had been made a citizen of France, on 
account of my being considered as one who had been 
persecuted for my attachment to the cause of liberty 
here. But though the invitation was repeated with 
the most flattering importunity, I never hesitated 
about declining it. 

I can farther say with respect to politics, concern- 
ing which 1 believe every Englishman has some opi- 
nion or other (and at present, owing to the peculiar 
nature of the present war, it is almost the only topic 
of general conversation) that, except in company, I 
hardly ever think of the subject, my reading, medita- 
tion, and writing, being almost wholly engrossed by 
theology, and philosophy ; and of late, as for many 

K 4 years 

]52 Continuation or 

years before the riots in Birmingham, I have spent 
a yery great proportion of my time, as my friends 
\\ ell know, in my laboratory. 

If, then, my real crime has not been sedition, or 
treason, what has it been ? For every effect must 
have some adequate cause, and therefore the odium 
that I have incurred must have been owing to some- 
thing in my declared sentiments, or conduct, that 
lias exposed me to it. In my opinion, it cannot 
have been any thing but my open hostility to the 
doctrines of the established church, and more espe- 
cially to all civil establishments of religion whatever. 
This has brought upon me the implacable resent- 
ment of the great body of the clergy ; and they have 
found other methods of opposing me besides argu- 
ment, and that use of the press which is equally open 
to us all. They have also found an able ally and 
champion in Mr. Burke, who (without any provo- 
cation except that of answering his book on the 
French Revolution) has taken several opportunities 
oi inveighing against me, in a place where he knows 
I cannot reply to hiin, and from which he also knows 
that his accusation will reach ever" corner of the 
-, and consequently thousands of parsons who 


the Memoirs. 15S 

will never read any writings of mine*. They have 
had another, and still more effectual vehicle of their 
abuse in what are called the treasury newspapers, 
and other popular publications. 

By these and others means, the same party spirit 
which was the cause of the riots in Birmingham, 
has been increasing ever since, especially in that 
neighbourhood. A remarkable instance of this 
may be seen in a Letter addressed, but not sent, to 
me from Mr. Foley, rector of Stourbridge, who ac- 
knowledges the satisfaction that he and his brethren 
have received from one of the grossest and coarsest 
pieces of abuse of me that has yet appeared, which, 
as a curious specimen of the kind, I inserted in the 
Appendix of my Appeal, and in which I am repre- 
sented as no better than Guy Fawkes, or the devil 
himself. This very Christian divine recommends 


Mr. Burke having said in the House of Commons, that " I was 
" made a citizen of France on account of my declared hostility to the 
* constitution of this country," I, in the public papers, denied the 
charge, and called upon him for the proofs of it. As he made no 
reply, I said, in the preface to my Fast Sermon of the last year, p. 9, 
that '* it sufficiently appeared-lhat he had neither ability to maintain 
" his charge, nor virtue to retract it." A year more of silence on his 
part having now elapsed, this is become more evident than befo^. 

X54 Continuation or 

to the members of the established church to decline 
all commercial dealings with the Dissenters, as an 
effectual method of exterminating them. This me- 
thod has been actually adopted in many parts of 
England. Also great numbers of the best farmers 
and artizans in England have been dismissed be- 
cause they would not go to the established church. 
Defoe's Shortest Way -with the Dissenters* would 
have taught the friends of the church a more effec- 
tual method still. And yet this Mr. Foley, whom 
I never saw, and who could not have had any parti- 
cular cause of enmity to me, had, like Mr. Madau 
of Birmingham, a character for liberality. What, 
then, have we to expect from others, when we find 
so much bigotry and rancour in such men as these? 
Many times, by the encouragement of persons 
from whom better things might have been expected, 
I have been burned in effigy along with Mr. Paine ; 
and numberless insulting and threatening letters 
have been sent to me from all parts of the kingdom. f 


* A tract -written in a grave ironical stile, advising to hang them 

j- In one of these I was threatened with being burned alive before 
a slow fire. 

the Memoirs. 155 

It is not possible for any man to have conducted 
himself more peaceably than I have done all the time 
that I have lived at Clapton, yet it has not exempted 
me not only from the worst suspicions, but very 
gross insults. A very friendly and innocent club, 
which I found in the place, has been considered as 
Jacobin chiefly on my account ; and at one time 
there was cause of apprehension that I should have 
been brought into danger for lending one of Mr. 
Paine's books. But with some difficulty the neigh- 
bourhood was satisfied that I was innocent. 

As nothing had been paid to me on account of 
damages in the riot, when I published the second 
part of my Appeal to the public on the subject, it 
may be proper to say, that it was paid some time 
in the beginning of the year 1793, with interest only 
from the first of January of the same year, though the 
injury was received in July, 1791 ; when equity 
evidently required, that it ought to have been allow- 
ed from the time of the riot, especially as, in all the 
cases, the allowance was far short of the loss. In 
my case it fell short, as I have shewn, not less than 
two thousand pounds. And the losses sustained by 
the other sufferers far exceeded mine. Public jus- 

156 Continuation of 

tice also required that, if the forms of law, local en. 
mity or any other cause, had prevented our receiving 
full indemnification, it should have been made up to 
us from the public treasury ; the great end of all civil 
government being protection from violence, or an in- 
demnification for it. Whatever we might in equity 
claim, the country owes us, and, if it be just, will 
some time or other pay, and with interest. 

I would farther observe, that since, in a variety of 
cases, money is allowed where the injury is not of a 
pecuniary nature, merely because no other compen- 
sation can be given, the same should have been done 
with respect to me, on account of the destruction of 
my manuscripts, the interruption of my pursuits, 
the loss of a pleasing and advantageous situation, 
&c. he. and had the injury been sustained b a 
cletgyman, he would, I doubt not, have claimed, and 
been allowed, very large damages on this account. 
So far, however, was there from being any idea of 
the kind in my favour, that my counsel advised me 
to make no mention of my manuscript Lectures on 
the Constitution of England, a work about as large as 
that of Blackstonc (^is may be seen by the syllabus 
of the particular lectures, sixty-three in all, publish- 

the Memoirs. 157 

ed in the first edition of my Essay on a Course of li- 
beral Education for civil and active Life) because it 
would be taken for granted that they were of a sedi- 
tious nature, and would therefore have been of disser- 
vice to me with the jury. Accordingly they were, 
in the account ef my losses, included in the article 
of so much paper. After these losses, had I had 
nothing but the justice of my country to look to, I 
must have sunk under the burden, incapable of a*y 
farther exertions. It was the seasonable generosity 
of my friends that prevented this, and put it in my 
power, though with the unavoidable loss of near two 
years, to resume my former pursuits. 

A farther proof of the excessive bigotry of this 
country is, that, though the clergy of Birmingham 
resenting what I advanced in the first part of my 
Appeal, replied to it, and pledged themselves to go 
through with the enquiry along with me, till the 
whole truth should be investigated, they have made 
no reply to the Second Part of my Appeal, in which 
I brought specific charges against themselves, and 
other persons by name, proving them to have been 
the promoters and abettors of the riot ; and yet they 
.have as much respect shown to them as ever, and the 

cou ntjfy 

158 Continuation, of 

country at large pays no attention to it. Had the 
clergy been the injured persons, and Dissenters the 
rioters, unable to answer the charges brought against 
them, so great would have been the general indigna- 
tion at their conduct, that I am persuaded it would 
not have been possible for them to continue in the 

I could, if I were so disposed, give my readers 
irxny more instances of the bigotry of the clergy of 
the chnrch of England with respect ro me, which 
could not fail to excite, in generous minds, equal 
indignation and contempt ; but I forbear.* Had 
I, however, foreseen what I am now witness to, I 
certainly should not have made any attempt tore- 
place my library or app aratus,and I soon repented 
of having done it. But this being done, I was 
willing to make some use of both before another 
interruption of my pursuits. I began to philoso- 
phize, and make experiments, rather late in life, 


* At a dinner of all the Prebendaries of a cathedral church, the 
conversation turning' on the riots in Birmingham, and on a clergyman 
having said that if I were mounted on a pile of my publications, he 
would set fire to them, and burn me alive, they all declared that they 
*o\jld bo ready to do the same. 

the Memoirs. 159 

being near forty, for want of the necessary means 
of doing any thing in this way; and my pursuits 
have been much interrupted by removals (never 
indeed chosen by myself, but rendered necessary 
by circumstances) and my time being now short, I 
hoped to have had no occasion for more than one, 
and that a final, remove. But the circumstances 
above mentioned ha<e induced me, though with 
great and sincere regret, to undertake another, 
and to a greater distance than any that I have hi- 
therto made. 

I profess not to be unmoved by the aspect of 
things exhibited in this discourse. But notwith- 
standing this, I should willingly have awaited my 
fate in my native country, whatever it had been, if 
I had not had sons in America, and if I did not think 
that a field of public usefulness, which is evidently 
closing upon me here, might open to more advan- 
tage there. 

I own also that I am not unaffected by such unex- 
ampled punishments as those of Mr. Muir and my 
friend Mr. Palmer, for offences, which, if, in the eye 
of reason, they be any at all, are slight, and very in- 
sufficiently proved ; a measure so subversive of that 


160 Continuation of 

freedom of speaking and acting, which has hitherto 
been the great pride of Britons. Bur the sentence of 
Mr. Winterbotham, for delivering from the pulpit 
what I am persuaded he never did deliver, and 
which, similar evidence might have drawn upon my- 
self, or any other dissenting minister, who was an 
object of general dislike, has something in it still 
more alarming*. But I trust that conscious in- 

* I trust/that the friends of liberty, especially among the Dissenters, 
will not fail to do every thing in their power to make Mr- Winterbo- 
tham's confinement, and alscrthe sufferings of Mr. Palmer and h's com- 
panions, as easy to them as possible. Raving been assisted in a set- 
son of persecution myself, I should be very ill deserving of the favours 
I have received, if I was not particularly desirous of recommending 
6uch cases as theirs to general consideration. Here difference in re- 
ligious sentiment is least of all to be attended to. On the contrary, 
let those who in this respect differ the most from- Mr. Winterbotham, 
which is my own case, exert themselves the most in his favour. When 
men of unquestionable integrity and piety suffer in consequence of 
acting (as such persons always will do) from a principle of conscience, 
they must command the rcspoct even of their enemies, if they also act 
from principle, though they be thereby led to proceed in an opposite 

The case of men of education and reflection (and who act from the 
best intentions with respect to the community) committing what only 
state poliey requires to be considered as crlvies, but which are allowed 


the Memoirs. 161 

nocencc would support me as it does him, under 
whatever prejudiced and violent men might do 
to me, as well as say of me. But I see no occasion 
to expose myself to danger without any prospect of 
doing good, or to continue any longer in a country 
in which I am so unjustly become the object of ge- 
neral dislike, and not retire to another, where I have 
reason to think I shall be better received. And I 
trust that the same good Providence which has at- 
tended me hitherto, and made me happy in my 
present situation, and all my former ones, will at- 
tend and bless me in what may still be before me. 
In all events, The will of God be done. 

I cannot refrain from repealing again, that I 


•n all hands to imply no moral turpitude, so as to render them unfit 
for heaven and happiness hereafter, is not to be confounded with that 
of common felons. There was nothing in the conduct of Louis XIV. 
and his ministers, that appeared so shocking, so contrary to all ideas 
of justice, humanity and decency, and that lias contributed more to 
render their memory execrated, than sending- such men as Mr. Ma- 
rolles, and other eminent Protestants, who are now revered as saints 
and martyrs, to the galleys, along with the vilest miscreants. Com- 
pared with this, the punishment of death would be mercy. I trust 
that, the Scots in general wiU think these measures a disgrace to their 


162 Continuation of 

leave my native country with real regret, neve: 
expecting to find any where else society so suited 
to my disposition and habits, such friends as I have 
here (whose attachment has been more than a ba- 
lance to all the abuse I have met with from others) 
and especially to replace one particular Christian 
friend, in whose absence I shall, for some time at 
least, find all the world a blank. Still less can I ex- 
pect to resume my favourite pursuits, with anything 
like the advantages I enjoy here. In leaving this 
country I also abandon a source of maintenance, 
which I can but ill bear to lose, I can, however 
truly say, that I leave it without an] 1- resentment, or 
ill-will. On the contrary, I sincerely wish my 
countrymen all happiness ; and when the time 
for reflection (which my absence may accelerate) 
shall come, they will, I am confident, do me more 
justice. They will be convinced that every sus- 
picion they have been led to entertain to my dis- 
advantage has been ill founded, and that I have even 
some claim to their gratitude and esteem. In this 
case, I shall look with satisfaction to the time when, 
if my life be prolonged, I may visit my friends in 
this country ; and perhaps I may, notwithstanding 


the Memoirs.^ 163 

fny removal for the present, find a grave (as I believe 
is naturally the wish of every man) in the land that 
gave me birth." 

On the 8th day of April 1794, my father set sail 
from London, and arrived at New- York on the 4th 
of June, where he staid about a fortnight. Many 
persons went to meet him upon his landing , and 
while he staid at New- York he received addresses 
from various Societies, and great attention from ma- 
ny of the most respectable persons in the place. 
From thence he proceeded to Philadelphia, where 
he received an address from the American Philoso- 
phical Society. Independent of the above marks 
of respect, he was chosen by an unanimous vote of 
the Trustees of the University of Philadelphia, pro- 
fessor of Chemistry. He was likewise invited to re- 
turn and stay at New- York, and open an Unitarian 
place of worship, which was to have been provided 
for him, and also to give Lectures on Experimental 
Philosophy to one hundred subscribers at ten dollars 
each. These invitations indeed he did not re- 
ceive until he had been settled some little time at 
Northumberland. These are sufficient proofs that 
the citizens of this country were not insensible to 

L 2 ' his 

164 Continuation of 

his merit as a Philosopher, and that they esteemed 
him for the part he took in the politics of Eu : ope. 
That he was not invited immediately on his arrival 
to preach either at New-York or Philadelphia, was 
not from any want of respect for his character, but 
because Unitarianism was in a manner unknown, 
and by many ignorantly supposed to have some con- 
nection with infidelity. The proper evidences of 
Christianity, the corruptions it has suffered, the mon- 
strous additions that have been engrafted on its pri- 
mitive simplicity, and the real state of the opi- 
nions of christians in the first ages of the church, 
were subjects that had hardly ever been discussed in 
this country. The controversies that had been car- 
ried on in England had not awakened attention here, 
and therefore though my father was known as having 
suffered in consequence of his opposition to the esta- 
blished religion of his country, yet his particular 
opinions were little understood. As his religious 
tenets became more known, these prejudices wore 
away, and independent of the proposal to open a 
place of Unitarian worship at New- York, mention- 
ed above, I shall have occasion to state the great 
reason he had to be satisfied with the testimonies of 


the Memoirs. 165 

respect paid to him, by the most eminent persons 
in the country, not merely in his character as a Phi- 
losopher, but as a preacher of the Gospel. 

About the middle of July 1794 my father left Phi- 
ladelphia for Northumberland, a town situated at 
the confluence of the North-East and West branch- 
es of the Susquehanna, and about 130 miles North- 
West of Philadelphia. I, and some other English 
gentlemen, had projected a settlement of 300,000 
acres of land, about fifty miles distant from Noi th- 
umberland. The subscription was filled chiefly by 
persons in England. Northumberland being at 
that time the nearest town to the proposed settlement, 
my father wished to see die place, and ascertain what 
conveniences it would afford should he incline either 
to fix there permanently, or only until the settle- 
ment should be sufficiently advanced for his accom- 
modation ; he was induced likewise to retreat, at 
least for the summer months, into the country, fear- 
ing the effects of the hot weather in such a city as 
Philadelphia. He had not, as has been errone- 
ously reported, rhe least concern in the projected 
settlement. He was not consulted in the formation 
of the plan of it, nor had he come to any determina- 

L 3 tion 

166 Continuation of 

tion to join it had it been carried into effect. 

The scheme of settlement was not confined to 
any particular class or character of men, religious, 
or political. It was set on foot to be as it were a 
rallying point for the English, who were at that time 
emigrating to America in great numbers, and who 
it was thought, would be more happy in society 
of the kind they had been accustomed to, than 
they would be, dispersed, as they now are, through 
the whole of the United States. It was farther 
thought, that by the union of industry and capi- 
tal, the wilderness would soon become cultivat- 
ed and equal to any other part of the country in eve- 
ry thing necessary to the enjoyment of life. To pro- 
mote this as much as possible, the original projec- 
tors of that scheme reserved only a few shares for 
themselves, for which they paid the same as those 
who had no trouble or expence either in forming the 
plan, or carrying it into execution. This they did, 
with a view to take away all source of jealousy, and 
to increase the facility of settlement, by increasing 
the proportion of settlers to the quantity of land to 
be settled. Fortunately for the original proposers, 
the scheme was abandoned. It might and would 


the Memoirs. 167 

have answered in a pecuniary point of view, as the 
land now sells at double and treble the price then 
asked for it, without the advantages which that set- 
tlement would have given rise to ; but the generali- 
ty of Englishmen come to this country with such 
erroneous ideas, and, unless previously accustomed 
to a life of labour, are so ill qualified to commence 
cultivation in a wilderness, that the projectors would 
most probably have been subject to still more un- 
founded abuse than they have been, for their well 
meant endeavours to promote the interests of their 

The scheme of settlement thus failing, for reasons 
which it is not necessary now to state, my father, 
struck with the beauty of the situation of Northum- 
berland, which is universally allowed to be equal if 
not superior to any in the state ; believing that, from 
the nature of its situation, it was likely to become a 
great thoroughfare, and having reason to consider it 
as healthy as it was pleasant, the intermittents to 
which it has latterly been subject being then un- 
known, determined to settle there. Before he came 
to this resolution however, he had the offer of the 
Professorship of Chemistry in the University of 

1* 4. Pennsyl- 

1$8 Continuation of 

Pennsylvania, before mentioned, which would pro- 
bably have yielded him 30C0 dollars per annum, 
there being generally about 2C0 students in Me- 
dicine of whom about 150 attend the Chemical Lec- 
tures ; as likewise the offer of a situation as Unitari- 
an Preacher and Lecturer in Natural Philosophy as 
I have likewise mentioned before. At that time he 
had no inducement to settle at Northumberland 
contrary to his inclination, as his books and apparatus 
were still at Philadelphia, his sons had not fixed up- 
on any place of settlement for themselves, and nei- 
ther he, nor they, had purchased a single foot of 
land in the town or the neighbourhood of it. 

The following reasons among others induced him 
to prefer a country to a city life. He thought that 
if he undertook the duties of a professor, he should 
not be so much at liberty to follow his favourite pur- 
suits as he could wish, and that the expence of living 
at Philadelphia or New- York would counterbalance 
the advantages resulting from his salary ; and indeed, 
at that time he had no occasion to attend to any pe- 
cuniary considerations, as he believed his income, 
Calculating upon his property in the French funds 
(which however from circumstances not neces^ny 

the Memoirs. 169 

to be stated in this place, never produced him any 
tiling,) to be more than equal to his wants ; but 
what had greater weight with him than any thing else 
was that my mother, who had been harrassed in her 
mind ever since the riots at Birmingham, thought 
that by living in the country, at a distance from the 
cities, she should be more likely to obtain that quiet 
of which she stood so much in need. 

Soon after his settlement at Northumberland, ma- 
ny persons, with a view that his qualifications 
as an instructor of youth should not be wholly 
lost to the country, concurred in a plan for the esta- 
blishment of a college at Northumberland. To this 
scheme several subscribed from this motive alone. 
Many of the principal landholders, partly from the 
above and partly from motives of interest, contributed 
largely both in money and land, and there was a fair 
prospect, from the liberal principles upon which it 
was founded, that it would have been of very great 
advantage to the country. My father was requested 
to draw up a plan of the course of study he would 
recommend, as well as the rules for the internal ma- 
nagement of the institution, and he was appointed 
President. He however declined receiving any emo- 

170 Continuation of 

lument, and proposed giving such lectures as he was 
best qualified for, gratis ; in die same manner as he 
had done at Hackney, and he meant to have given to 
theinstitution the useof his library and apparatus, until 
the students could have been furnished with them by 
means of the funds of the college. In consequence 
of the unexpected failure of some of the prin- 
cipal contributors, the scheme fell through at that 
time, and little more was done during my father's 
life time than to raise the shell of a convenient building. 
I shall in this place state, though I shall anticipate, 
in so doing, that in the year 1803 a vacancy occurred 
in the University of Pennsylvania, by the death of 
Dr. Euen, Principal of that institution. It was- inti- 
mated to my father by many of the Trustees, that in 
case he would accept of the appointment, there was 
little doubt of his obtaining it; Mr. M'Kean, the 
present governor of the State of Pennsylvania, being 
among others particularly anxious that he should ac- 
cept of it. In addition to the reasons that had induced 
him to decline the offer of the Professorship of Chemis- 
try were to be added the weak state of his health, which 
would have made the idea of his having any serious 
engagement to fulfil, very irksome to him ; he accor- 
dingly declined it. 


the Memoirs. 171 

He had frequent intimations of other proposals of a 
similar nature that would have been made to him, 
had it not become generally known, that he could 
not accede to them from their being inconsistent 
with the plan of life he had laid down for himself. 

I have been thus particular in the account of his 
reasons for settling at Northumberland, and of the 
different inducements offered to him to fix elsewhere, 
to do away the erroneous reports respecting the for- 
mer, and likewise to counteract the idea that has 
been so industriously circulated in England, that his 
abilities were undervalued, that the bigotry and pre- 
judice he had to encounter in this country, were 
greater than were opposed to him in England ; that 
his life was in consequence rendered uncomfortable, 
and that if he could, he would have been glad to have 
returned to his native country, but was restrained by 
a sense of shame. Some colour was given to these 
reports by many of his countrymen who, from mo- 
tives best known to themselves, perhaps thinking 
thereby to excuse the inconsistency of their own 
conduct, corroborated the accounts, though many 
of them had never seen my father in this country, and 
had no authority whatever for assertions which were 


172 Continuation or 

entirely calumnies. Some currency was also given 
to the statement, by the false and injurious accounts 
published by the Duke de Liancount, whose book 
if I may judge of it by that part which treats of Penn- 
sylvania, and of this neighbourhood in particular, fc 
not entitled to the least credit, being false in almost 
wery particular. This my father himself has stated 
in a letter addressed to him. 

The writer, understanding the language of the 
country but very imperfectly, must necessarily have 
been liable to many mistakes ; nor is it to be wonder- 
ed at that a man who details all the tittle tattle of eve- 
ry table to which he is invited, and who can basely 
convert the hospitable reception he meets with in a 
strange country, into the means of turning into ridi- 
cule those who shewed him attention and meant to- 
serve him, should be even capable of fabricating and 
circulating gross and injurious falsehoods respecting 
individuals. I should disgrace myself, in my opinion, 
and still more should I disgrace the high situation 
which my father held in the esteem of the public, 
were I in this work to enter into any further conside- 
ration of his attack on my father's character, satisfied 
that it is beyond the reach of his falsehoods and un- 
provoked malevolence. 


the Memoirs. 173 

My father would, no doubt, have been glad to 
have returned to England, and have enjoyed the so- 
ciety of his old and much valued friends ; he would 
have rejoiced to have been nearer the centre of the 
Arts and Sciences ; to have been joined again to 
his congregation and resumed his duties as a Chris- 
tian Preacher; he would have been glad at the 
close of life, as he expresses himself, " to have 
found a grave in the land that gave him 
birth ; " but this was impossible : and no 
person can read the preface to his Fast Ser- 
mon, quoted above, but must be convinced of it. 
Though he raised the credit of his native country by 
the brilliancy, the extent and the usefulness of his 
discoveries in different branches of science; though 
during his whole life lie inculcated principles 
of virtue and religion, which the government 
pretended at least to believe were necessary to the 
well being of the state ; though in no one single 
.act of his life had he violated any law of his country 
or encouraged others to do so, what was the treat- 
ment he met with in that land of boasted civilizati- 
on, and at the close of the 18th Century ? It is suffi- 
ciently known, and will, as^it ought to do,affect the cha- 

174. Continuation of 

racter of the nation at large. Therefore, though he 
could have forgotten and forgiven all that was past, 
though the above mentioned motives would have had 
great weight in inducing him to return, yet there was 
no reason to expect that he should meet hereafter with 
better treatment than he had already experienced ; 
and in consequence of this fixed persuasion he never 
entertained the idea of returning to live in England. 
He frequently talked indeed of returning to visit his 
friends ; but when peace took place and he could 
have gone with safety, so comfortably was he settled 
in this country, and such was his opinion of the state 
of things in England, that he abandoned even the 
idea of a temporary journey thither, altogether. 

But supposing the above obstacles had not existed 
to his return to his native country, he had no reason 
to be, nor was he, dissatisfied with his reception here. 
Independent of the attentions paid to him upon his 
first arrival in this country, he continued to receive 
marks of respect from bodies of men, and from indi- 
viduals of various opinions in religion and politics, 
to whom he had been all his life before an utter 
stranger. Little reason therefore have his country- 
men to represent his reception in America as une- 

the Memoirs.' 175 

qual to his merits, or to calumniate the general cha- 
racter of the people here. His discoveries did not 
add to the credit of America as they had done to that 
of England, yet he was not obliged to withdraw his 
name from its Philosophical Society, disgusted with 
its illiberal treatment of himself and his friends. 
The Americans, comparatively speaking, had little 
opportunity of judging of his zeal for the real in- 
terests of religion, yet he was suffered to live in 
peace ; and this country has not been disgraced by 
the destruction of a library and apparatus uniformly 
dedicated to the promotion of Science, and the good 
of mankind. It will be said that there were not such 
interests to oppose in America as in England. It is 
true, and it proves that the Americans have done 
well not to create such interests, and that the placing 
all the religious sects upon the same footing with 
respect to the government of the country, has ef- 
fectually secured the peace of the community, at the 
same time that it has essentially promoted the inter* 
csts of truth and virtue. 

Being now settled at Northumberland with his 
mind at peace, and at ease in his circumstances, 
he seriously applied himself to those studies which 


176 Continuation oj 

he had long heen compelled to desist from, and 
which he had but imperfectly attended to while he 
resided at Hackney. It is true that he spent his 
time there very agreeably, in a society of highly va- 
lued friends ; but he did little compared to what he 
effected while he was at Birmingham, or what he has 
done during his residence here, owing to his time 
being very much broken in upon at Hackney by 
company. To prove how much he did in this 
country it is only necessary to refer to the list of the 
publications which he presented to the world in va* 
rious branches of science, in theology and general 
literature. Here as in England, though more at lei- 
sure than formerly, he continued to apportion his 
time to the various occupations in which he was en- 
gaged, and strictly adhered to a regular plan of alter- 
nate study and relaxation, from which he never ma- 
terially deviated. 

It was while my father was at the academy that he 
commenced a practice which he continued until 
within three or four days of his death, of keeping a 
diary, in which he put down the occurrences of the 
day ; what he was employed about, where he had 
been, and particularly an exact account of what he 


the Memoirs, 177 

had been reading, mentioning the names of the au- 
thors, and the number of pages he read, which was 
generally a fixed number, previously determined 
upon in his own mind. He likewise noted down 
any hints suggested by what he read in the course of 
the day. It was his custom at the beginning of each 
year to arrange the plan of study that he meant to 
pursue that year, and to review the general situation 
of his affairs, and at the end of the year he took an 
account of the progress he had made, how far he had 
executed the plan he had laid down, and whether his 
situation exceeded or fell short of the expectations he 
had formed. 

This practice was a source of great satisfaction to 
him through life. It was at first adopted as a mode 
of regulating his studies, and afterwards continued, 
from the pleasure it gave him. The greater part of 
his diaries were destroyed at the riots at Birming- 
ham, but there are stili extant those for the year 
1754, 1755 and several of the subsequent years. 

As it will serve to shew the regularity with which 
he pursued his studies, and may possibly be instruc- 
tive as well as amusing to the reader, I shall give 
a specimen of the manner in which he spent a year 

M while. 

178 Continuation of 

while he was at the academy, at Daventry, and foV 
that purpose shall select his diary for the year 1755 
when lie was in his 22d year. The diary contains a 
particular account of what he read and wrote each 
day., and at different periods of the year he sums up 
in the following manner, the progress he had made 
in improvement, which I give as entered at the end 
of the diary. 

Business done in January, February and March. 

Howe's blessedness of the righteous; Bennet's 
pastoral care ; Norm's letters and some sermons. 

Taylor on Atonement; Hampton's Answer; 
Sherlock's discourses Vol. 1 ; Christianity not 
founded in Argument; Doddridge's Answer; 
Warb ui ton's divine legation ; Benson on the first 
planting of Christianity ; King's Constitution of 
the Primitive Church. 


Josephus, Vol. 1, from page 390 to 770; Ovid's 
Metamorphoses to page 139; Tacitus's History, 
Life of Agricola, and Manners of the Germans. 


the Memoirs," 179 

John the Evangelist, the Acts of the Apostles 
the Epistles to the Romans, Galatians, Epheuians, 1st 
and 2d Corinthians, in Greek ; Isaiah to the 3th 
chapter, in Hebrew. 

Maclaurin's Algebra to part 2d. 

Irene ; Prince Arthur ; Ecclesiastical characters ; 
Dryden's fables; Peruvian tales; Voyage round 
the world; Oriental tales; Massey's travels; 
Life of Hai Ebn Yokdam ; History of Abdallah. 
A Sermon on the Wisdom of God ; An Ora- 
tion on the means of Virtue ; 1st Vol. of the Insti- 
tutes of Natural and Revealed Religion. 

Business done from April 1st to June 23d. 
Watts's Catechism, and discourses on Catechiz- 
ing ; Fenelon's spiritual works Vol. 1st and half of 
Vol. 2d ; Saurin's Sermons a few ; Thomas a 
Kempis Book 1st t6 ch. 21 ; Cotton Mather's life ; 
Jennings on preaching Christianity. 

M 2 Contra* 

180 Continuation of 

Towgood, Gill and Breckell on Baptism ; Lfc 
Clerc on Inspiration ; Whiston's Historical preface ; 
Emlyn's narrative and humble enquiry , Apostolical 
Constitutions ; Newton on the prophecies ; Win- 
der's History of knowledge ; Hoadly on the Sacra- 
ment ; Lowman on the Revelation ; Moral Philoso- 
pher , Hume's Political discourses ; Middleton's 
fathers of the four first centuries ; Middleton and 
Waterland's controversy. on the Demo- 
niacs ; Goodrich's display of Human Nature. 
Cicero's 1st. Phillippic. 

U:vversal History Vol. 15 and 16 and to page 
488 of the 17th. 

Second Vol. of the Institutes of Natural and Re- 
pealed Religion; wrote an article on Edwards's trans- 
lation of the Psalms for the review. 

From June 23d to September 1» 
Practical Writers. 
Thomas a Kempis from Ch. 21 of Book 1st ; 
Hartley on Muii vol. 2d. May's Prayers. Holland's 

Sermons. . 


the Memoirs. 181 

From the 1st Epistle of Timothy to the Revelati- 
ons, and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in 
the Greek Testament; The books of Genesis, 
Exodus, and Leviticus, in the Hebrew Bible. 
Ovid from Book 9th ; Demosthenes 1st Phillippic 
and 3 Olynthiacs ; Herodotus Book 1st ; Homer's 
Iliad, Book 1, 2, 3 ; Sallust. 
Universal History from Vol. 17 p. 488 to the end 
pf Vol. 18. Neal's History of the Puritans 4 

The Anatomical Articles in the Universal Dicti. 
onary, several principal Agebraic ones, and all the 
letter A. 

12 Sermons. 

Business done in September. 
Holland's Sermons, Vol. 2d ; Doddridge's family 

Expositor Vol. 1. 

M 3 Scriptures; 

182 Continuation of- 

John the Evangelist, ia Greek. 
Numbers, and to the 16th Chapter in Deuteronomy 
in Hebrew. 

Homer's Iliad, 12 books. 

Euclid, Lib. I, 2, 3. 


Universal History, Vol. 19th. 


Mason's Student ; One of Shakespeare*s plays. 


4 Sermons. 

Business done in October. 
Doddridge's Expositor Vol. 2d ; Common Prayer 
Book ; Fordyce's Sermons on public Institutions. 
Deuteronomy from Ch. 16 to the end ; Ecclesias- 
tes and Solomon's Song in Hebrew and Greek. 
Homer's Iliad, Book P to the end. 

Euclid, Lib. 4, 5, 6- 


the Memoirs'* 183 

Universal History, Vol. 20th. 
5 Shakespeares Plays. 


3 Sermons. 

Business done in November. 
Abernethy's Practical Sermons. 

Job, in Heb -ew and the Septuagint. 

Philosophy , Mathematics and Chemistry \ 
Euclid Lib. 1 L and 12 slightly ; Boerhave's Theo- 
ry of Chemistry a good part of Vol. 1st , Rowning's 
Philosophy half of Vol. 1st. 
Francis's Horace, Odes 4 books. 

Universal History part of Vol. 3d ; Jewish Antiqui- 
ties, History of the Council of Trent to page 133. 
Anson's voyage by Walter. 

4 of Shakespeare's plays. 


2 Ser jions. 

M4 Busi, 

184 Continuation of 

Business done in December. 


Abernethy's Posthumous sermons Vol. 2d ; 

Clarke's sermons Vol. 1st. Patric on Ecclesiastes. 


Psalms, in the Hebrew and Septuagint. 

Rowning's Philosophy part 2d and 3d. 

Francis's Horace Vol. 2 and 3. 

Miscellaneous and Entertaining. 
Malcolm on Music, half; 4 Shakespeare's plays. 
Half of the 1st Vol. of the Rambler. 
Popes Ethic Epistles, a few. 
Paul's Council of Trent, to page 476 ; Life of the 
Duke of Marlborough. 

4 Sermons. 

It will be seen by this extract from his diary, that' 
his studies were very varied, which, as he was al- 
ways persuaded, enabled him to do so much. This 
he constantly attended to through life ; his chemical 
and philosophical pursuits serving as a kind of re- 

the Memoirs. 185 

taxation from his theological studies. His miscella- 
neous reading, which was at all times very extensive, 
comprizing even novels and plays, still served to in- 
crease the variety. For many years of his life, he 
never spent less than two or three hours a day in 
games of amusement, as cards and backgammon; 
but particularly chess — at which he and my mother 
played regularly three games after dinner, and as 
many after supper. As his children grew up, chess 
was laid aside for whist or some round game at cards, 
which he enjoyed as much as any of the company. 
It is hardly necessary to state that he never played 
for money, even for the most trifling sum. 

To all these modes of relieving the mind, he ad- 
ded bodily exercise. Independent of his laborato- 
ry furnishing him with a good deal, as he never em- 
ployed an operator, and never allowed any one even 
to light a fire, he generally lived in situations which 
required his walking a good deal, as at Calne, Bir- 
mingham and Hackney. Of that exercise he was 
very fond. He walked well, and his regular pace 
was four miles an hour. In situations where 
the necessity of walking was not imposed upon 
him, he worked in his garden as at Calne, 


X86 Continuation of 

when he had not occasion to go to Bowood; at 
Northumberland in America, he was particularly 
attached to this exercise. 

But what principally enabled him to do so much 
was regularity, for it dees not appear that at any 
period of his life he spent more than six or eight 
hours per day in business that required much men- 
tal exertion. I find in the same diary, which I have 
quoted from above, that he laid down the following 
daily arrangement of time for a minister's studies : 
Studying the Scriptures I hour. Practical writers 
1-2 an hour. Philosophy and History 2 hours. 
Classics 1-2 an hour. Composition 1 hour — in 
all 5 hours. He adds below " All which may be 
" conveniently "dispatched before dinner, which leaves 
M the afternoon for visiting and company, and the 
44 evening for exceeding in any article if there be 
* occasion. Six hours not too much, nor seven." 

It appears by his diary that he followed this plan 
at that period of his life. He generally walked out 
in the afternoon or spent it in company. At that lime 
there was a society or club that assembled twice a 
week, at which the members debated questions, or 
t6ok it in turn to deliver orations, or read es- 

the Memoir?. 187 

says of their own composition. When not attend- 
ing these meetings, he most generally appears to 
have spent the evening in company with some of the 
students in their chambers. 

It was by the regularity and variety of his studies, 
more than by intenseness of application, that he per- 
formed so much more than even studious men gene- 
rally do. At the time he was engaged about the 
most important works, and when he was not busily 
employed in making experiments, he always had lei- 
sure for company, of which he was fond. He never 
appeared hurried or behind hand. He however ne- 
ver carried his complaisance so far as to neglect the 
daily task he had imposed upon himself; but as he 
was uniformly an early riser, and dispatched his 
more serious pursuits in the morning, it rarely hap- 
pened but that he could accomplish the labours as- 
signed for the day, without having occasion to with- 
draw from visitors at home, or society abroad, or 
giving reason to suppose that the company of others 
was a restraint upon his pursuits. 

This habit of regularity, extended itself to 
every tiling that he read, and every thing he did 
that was susceptible of it. He never read a book 


•188 Continuation of 

without determing in his own mind when he 
would finish it. Had he a work to transcribe, he 
would fix a time for its completion. This habit 
increased upon him as he grew in years, and his dia- 
ry was kept upon the plan I have before described, 
till within a few days of his death. 

To the regularity and variety of his studies, must 
he added a considerable degree of Mechanical con* 
trivance, which greatly facilitated the execution of 
many of his compositions. It was however most 
apparent in his laboratory, and displayed in the sim- 
plicity and neatness of his apparatus, which was the 
great cause of the accuracy of his experiments, and 
of the fair character which he acquired as an experi- 
mental chemist. This was the result in the first in- 
stance of a necessary attention to ceconomy in all 
his pursuits, and was afterwards continued from 
choice, when the necessity no longer existed. I re- 
turn from this digression which I thought necessary 
to give the reader a general view of my father's occu- 
pations, and his manner of spending his time, to the 
circumstances attending the remaining years of his 

At his first settling at Northumberland, there was 


the Memoirs. 189 

no house to be procured that would furnish him with 
the conveniencies of a library and laboratory in addi- 
tion to the room necessary for a family. Hence in 
the beginning of the year 1795, being then fixed in 
his determination to move no more, he resolved 
upon building a house convenient for his pursuits. 
During the time the house was building, he had no 
convenience for making experiments more than 
a common room afforded, and he was thereby 
prevented from doing much in this way. Still, he 
ascertained several facts of importance in the year 
1795 on the Analysis of Atmospheric Air, and also 
some in continuation of those on the generation of 

air from water. 

He had however leisure and opportunity for his 
pther studies and in 1795 he published observations 
on the increase of infidelity and he continued his 
Church History from the fall of the Western Empire 
to the reformation. 

In the spring of 1796 he spent three months at 
Tliiladelphia and delivered there a set of discourses 
on the Evidences of Revelation, which he composed 
with a view to counteract the effect produced by the 
writings of unbelievers, which, as might be expected, 


190 Continuation op 


was very great in a country where rational opinions in 
religion were but little known, and where the eviden- 
ces of revelation had been but little attended to. It 
was a source of great satisfaction to him, and what he 
had little previous reason to expect, that his lectures 
were attended by very crowded audiences, including 
most of the members of the congress of the United 
States at that time assembled at Philadelphia, and of the 
executive officers of the government. These discour- 
ses which, in a regular and connected series, placed 
Christianity, and the evidences- of its truth, in a more 
clear and satisfactory point of view than it had been 
usually considered in this country, attracted much 
attention, and created an interest in the subject which 
there is reason to believe has produced lasting effects. 
My father received assurances from many of the most 
respectable persons in the country, that they viewed 
the subject in a totally different light from what the?* 
had before done, and that could they attend place* 
of worship, where such rational doctrines were incul- 
cated, they should do it with satisfaction. 

As my father had through life considered the office 
of a Christian minister as the most useful and ho- 
nourable of any, and had always derived the greatest 


yiTE Memoirs. 191 

satisfaction from fulfilling its duties, particularly from 
catechizing young persons, the greatest source of un- 
easiness therefore to him at Northumberland was, that 
there was no sufficient opportunity of being useful 
in that way. Though he was uniformly treated with 
kindness and respect by the people of the place, yet 
their sentiments in religion were so different from his- 
own, and the nature and tendency of his opinions were 
so little understood, that the establishment of a place of 
unitarian worship perfectly free from any calvinistic 
or Arian tenet, was next to impossible. All there- 
fore that he could do in that way was, for the two or 
three firsty ears, to read a service either at his own or at 
my house, at which a few (perhaps a dozen) English 
persons were usually present, and in time, as their num- 
bers increased he made use of a school room near his 
house, where from twenty to thirty regularly attend- 
ed, and among them some of the inhabitants of the 
place, who by degrees began to divest themselves of 
their prejudices with respect to his opinions. How* 
ever small the number of persons attending, he admi- 
nistered the Lord's supper, a rite upon which he al- 
ways laid particular stress. 

In the Autumn of 1795 he had the misfortune to 


192 Continuation of 

lose his youngest son, of whom being much young* 
er than any of his other children, and having enter- 
tained the hopes of his succeeding him in his Theo- 
logical and Philosophical pursuits he was remarka- 
bly fond. He felt this misfortune the more severely 
as it was the first of the kind he had experienced, 
and particularly as it had a visible tffect upon my 
mother's health and spirits. He was however so con- 
stantly in the habit of viewing the hand of God in 
all things, and of considering every occurrence as 
leading to good, that his mind soon recovered its ac- 
customed serenity, and his journey to Philadelphia 
mentioned above and the success which attended his 
first exertions in the cause of, what he deemed, pure 
and genuine. Christianity, led him to look forward 
with cheerfulness to the future, and gave him an e- 
nergy in his pursuits, which was never exceeded in 
any part of his life. It was the same habit of view- 
ing God as the author of all events, and produce 
ing good out of seeming evil, that enabled him to 
support himself so well under the greatest affliction 
that could possibly have befallen him, viz. the loss 
of his wife, my mother ; who through life had been 
truly a help meet for him; supporting him under 



the Memoirs. 193 

all his trials and sufferings with a constancy and per- 
severance truly praise worthy, and who as he him- 
self, in noting the event in his diary, justly observes, 
" was of a noble and generous mind and cared much 
for others and little for herself through life." 

In the period between the above very afflicting 
events, though his conveniences for experimenting 
were not increased, owing to his house, and parti- 
cularly his laboratory not being finished, he wrote a 
small treatise in defence of the doctrine of Phlogis- 
ton, addressed to the Philosophers in France. He 
likewise composed a second set of discourses of a 
similar kind to those delivered in Philadelphia the 
preceding winter. He preached and printed a ser- 
mon in defence of Unitarianism, and printed the first 
set of discourses , he compleated his Church Histo- 
ry ; he made additional observations on the increase 
of infidelity chiefly in answer to Mr. Volney ; and 
drew up an Outline of all the Evidences in favour of 

In the spring of 1797 he again spent two or three 
months in Philadelphia, and delivered a second set 
of discourses, but partly from the novelty of the thing 
being done away, partly from the prejudices that be- 

N gan 

194 Continuation- of 

gan to be excited against him on account of his sup* 
posed political opinions, (for high-toned politics began 
then to prevail in the fashionable circles) and partly- 
owing to the discourses not being so well adapted for 
a public audience, though necessary to set the com- 
parative excellence of Christianity in its true light, 
they were but thinly attended in comparison to his 
former set. This induced him to give up the idea 
of preaching any more regular sets of discourses. 
He how ever printed them, as likewise a sermon he 
preached in favour of the Emigrants. He also com- 
posed at this time a third and enlarged edition of his 
Observations on the increase of infidelity, a controver- 
sy with Mr. Volney, a tract on the Knowledge of a 
Future state among the Hebrews, which, with the 
works he composed the year before, he printed as he 
found means and opportunity. He revised his 
Chuich History, began his Notes on the Scriptures, 
and his Comparison of the Institutions of Moses witH 
those of the Hindoos. 

Towards the end of 1797 and not before, his libra- 
ry and laboratory were finished. None but men de- 
voteu to literature can imagine the pleasure he deri- 
ved from being able to renew his experiments with 


the Memoirs." 195 

every possible convenience, and from having his 
books once more arranged. His house was situated 
in a garden, commanding a prospec* equal, if not 
superior, to any on the river Susquehanna, so justly 
celebrated for the picturesque views its banks afford. 
It was a singularly fortunate circumstance that he 
found at Northumberland several excellent work- 
men in metals, who could repair his instruments, 
make all the new articles he wanted in the course of 
his experimenting, as well as, he used to say, if not in 
some respects better than, he could have got them 
done in Birmingham ; and in the society of Mr. 
Frederick Antis, the brother of Mr. Antis in Eng- 
land, and uncle of Mr. Latrobe the engineer, he de- 
rived great satisfaction. Mr. Antis was a man of 
mild and amiable manners, he possessed a very good 
knowledge of Mechanics the result of his own ob- 
servation and reflection, and a fund of knowledge of? 
many things which my father frequently found useful 
to resort to. The situation of Northumberland be* 
came abundantly more convenient than it was when 
he first came to the place. From there being no re* 
gular public post, there was now established a post 
twice a week to Philadelphia, and answers could be 

N % receiv- 

196 Continuation or f 

received to letters within a week, and the commurii- 
cation so much increased between the two places, 
that the price of the carriage of goods was reduced 
from lls.Sd. to 6s. per Cwt. the distance being 
132 miles. 

Thus conveniently situated, he resumed the same 
kind of life he led at Birmingham, experimenting 
the greater part of the day, the result of which he 
published in the Medical repository of New- York. 
Having compleated his Church History, he finished 
his Comparison of the Institutions of Moses with 
those of the Hindoos. He likewise proceeded as far 
as Leviticus in the design he had formed of writing 
Notes on all the books of Scripture, and made some 
remarks on the origin of all religions by Dupuis, 
but the greater part of the time that he spent in theo- 
logy this year, was employed in recomposing the 
Notes on the New-Testament, which were destroyed 
at the riots. 

In the course of the year 1799, he finished his 
Notes on all the books of Scripture, he published his 
Comparison of the Institutions of Moses with those 
of the Hindoos, he likewise printed his Defence of 
the doctrine of Phlogiston above mentioned, and the 


the Memoirs. 197 

greater part of each day in the summer was employ- 
ed in making the additional experiments he had pro- 

It was in the year 1799, during Mr. Adams's 
administration, that my father had occasion to write 
any thing on the subject of politics in this country. 
It is well known to all his friends, that politics were 
always a subject of secondary importance with him. 
He however took part occasionally in the conversa- 
tions on that subject ; which every person has a right 
to do, and which, about the time my father left 
England, no person could avoid doing, as the subject 
engrossed so large a part of the conversation in al- 
most every company. He always argued on the 
side of liberty. He was however in favour only of 
those changes that could be brought about by fair 
argument, and his speculations on the subject of 
British politics did not go further than a reform in 
Parliament, and no way tended, in his opinion, to af- 
fect the form of government, or the constitution of 
the kingdom, as vested in Kings, Lords and Com- 
mons, He used frequently to say, and it was said 
to him, that though lie was an Unitarian in Religion 
he was in that country a Trinitarian in politics. 

N 3 When 

198 Continuation of 

When he came to America, he found reason to 
change his opinions, and he became a decided friend 
to the general principles and practice of a compleat- 
ly representative government, founded upon uni- 
vers 1 suffrage, and excluding hereditary privileges, 
as it exists in this country. This change was natu- 
rally produced by Observing the ease and happiness 
with which the people lived, and the unexampled 
prosperity of the country, of which no European, 
unless he has resided in it some time, and has ob- 
served the interior part of it, can be a competent 
judge. But with respect to England, he still re- 
mained anxious for its peace and prosperity, and 
though he had been so hardly used, and though he 
considered the administration of the country, if not 
instigating at least conniving at the riots, no resent- 
ment existed in his breast against the nation. In his 
feelings he was still an Englishman. Though he 
might speculatively consider that the mass of evil 
and misery had arisen to such a height in England, 
and in other European countries, that there was no 
longer any hope of a peaceable and gradual reform, 
yet, considering at the same time that the great body 
of the people, like the Negroes in the West-Indies, 


the Memoirs." 199 

were unprepared for the enjoyment of liberty in its 
full extent, and contemplating the evils necessarily 
attendant upon a violent change, he dreaded a revo. 

With respect to America he had never interfered 
publicly in politics, and never wrote an article that 
could be considered in that light in any respect, ex- 
cept one published in a newspaper called the Au- 
rora, signed a Quaker in Politics, published on the 
26th and 27th of February, 1798, and entitled 
Maxims of Political Arithmetic,* and so little did 
he interest himself in the politics of this country, 
that he seldom if ever perused the debates in Con- 
gress, nor was he much acquainted with any of the 
leading political characters except three or four, and 
with these he never corresponded but with Mr. 
Adams prior to his being chosen president, and Mr. 
Jefferson. He never was naturalized, nor did he 
take part directly or indirectly in any election. He 
persevered in the same sentiments even when he was 
under reasonable apprehension that he should be ba- 

* See Appendix, No. IV. 


200 Continuation of 

nished as an Alien : and though he advised his sons 
to be naturalized, saying it was what was daily done 
by persons who could not be suspected of wishing 
any ill to their native country, yet he would net , 
but said, that as he had been bom and had lived an 
Englishman, he would die one let what might be the 

About the year 1799, the friends of liberty in A- 
merica were greatly alarmed by the advancement of 
principles disgraceful to America, and by a practice 
less liberal in many respects than under the monar- 
chical form of the British government. Nothing 
else was the subject of conversation and my father 
who though never active in politics, at the same time 
never concealed his sentiments, uttered them freely 
in conversation, and they were of course opposed to 
the proceedings of the administration at the time. 
Added to this Mr. Thomas Cooper formerly of 
Manchester, and who at that time had undertaken 
for a short period, at the request of the printer, to 
edit a newspaper then printed at Northumberland, 
had published some very severe strictures on the 
conduct of the administration, which were soon af- 
ter published in a pamphlet, under the title of Poli- 
tical Essays. 


the Memoirs. 201 

By many my father might be ignorantly supposed 
as the prompter on the occasion, as Mr. Cooper liv- 
ed at that time with my father, and by those who 
knew better, it was made the ostensible ground of 
objection to my father, to conceal the real one. In 
truth he saw none of the essays until they were print- 
ed, nor was he consulted by Mr. Cooper upon any 
part of them. The consequence was, that all the 
bigotry and party zeal of that violent period was em- 
ployed to injure him, and misrepresent his words 
and actions. He was represented as intriguing for 
offices for himself and his friend, and as an enemy to 
the government which they said protected him, 
while men who were themselves but newly natural- 
ized, or the immediate descendants of foreigners, 
.bestowed upon him the epithet of Alien, an epithet 
then used by the government party as a term of re- 
proach, though the country was principally indebted 
to the capital, industry and enterprize of foreigners 
for the many improvements then carrying on. Such 
was the effect of all these slanderous reports, and 
such was the character of the administration, that it 
was intimated to my father, from Mr. Adams him- 
self, that he wished he would abstain from saying 


202 Continuation of 

any thing on politics, lest he should get into difficulty. 
The Alien law which was passed under that admini- 
stration, v. as at that time in operation, and a man 
without being convicted of, or even positively charg- 
ed with, any offence, might have been sent out of 
the country at a moment's warning, not only without 
a trial, but without the right of remonstrance. It 
was likewise hinted to my father as he has himself 
stated, that he was one of the persons contemplated 
when the law was passed, so little did they know of 
his real character and disposition. This occasioned 
my father to write a set of letters to the inhabitants of 
Northumberland ; in which he expressed his senti- 
ments fully on all the political questions at that time 
under discussion. They had the effect of removing 
the unfavourable impressions that had been made on 
the minds of the liberal and candid, and procured him 
many friends. Fortunately however the violent mea^ 
sures then adopted produced a compleat change in 
the minds of the people, and in consequence of it in 
the representation, proving by the peaceableness of it, 
the excellence of this form of government, and prov- 
ing also that my fadier's sentiments, as well as Mr. 
Cooper's, were approved of by nine tenths of the 
people of the United States. 

the Memoirs. 203 

It is but justice however to mention that in the 
above remarks which have been made to represent 
my father's political character in its true light, and to 
account for his writing on the subject of politics, I 
do not mean to reflect on all the federalists, and that 
though my father considered them all as in error, yet 
he acknowledged himself indebted to many of that 
party for the most sincere marks of friendship which 
he had received in this country, and that not only 
from his opponents in politics, but likewise from 
many of the principal clergymen of various denomi- 
nations in Philadelphia, and particularly during his 
severe illness in that city, when party spirit was at 
the highest, it being at the time of Mr. Jefferson's 
first election to the presidency. 

As my father has given an account of those friends 
to whose kindness and generosity he was principally 
indebted from the commencement of his literary ca- 
reer, to the time of his coming to America, I think it 
my duty to follow his example, and to make on his 
part those acknowledgements which had he lived, he 
would have taken pleasure in making himself. To 
the Revd. TheophilusLindsey, independent of the ma- 
ny marks of the most sincere friendship, which he was 


204 Continuation or 

constantly receiving, he was occasionally indebted fof 
pecuniary assistance at times when it was most want- 
ing. Independent of 50 £. per annum, which Mrs. 
Elizabeth Rayncr allowed him from the time he left 
England, she left him by her will £. 2000 in the 4, 
per cents. Mr. Michael Dodson who is well known 
as the translator of Isaiah left him £-500, and Mr. 
Samuel Sake left him 100 £. The Duke of Graf- 
ton remitted him aunually 40 £. Therefore though 
his expences were far greater than he expected, and 
though his house cost him double the sum he had 
contemplated, the generosity of his friends made him 
perfectly easy in his mind with respect to pecuniary 
affairs ; and by freeing him from all care and anxie- 
ty on this head contributed greatly to his happiness, 
and to his successful endeavours in the cause of truth. 
Besides these instances of friendly attention, the dif- 
ferent branches of his family have been, in various 
ways, benefited, in consequence of the respect paid 
to my father's character, and the affectionate regard 
shewn by his friends to all who were connected with 

But what gave my father most real pleasure was 
the subscription, set en foot by his friends in England, 

the Memoirs. 205 

to enable him to print his Church History, and his 
Notes on all the Books of Scripture. The whole 
was done without his knowledge, and the first infor- 
mation he received on the subject was, that there 
was a sum raised sufficient to cover the whole ex- 

About the time he died, some of his friends in 
England understood that he was likely to suffer a loss 
in point of income of £. 200 per annum. Without 
any solicitation, about forty of them raised the sum 
of £. 450, which was meant to have been continued 
annually while he lived. He did not live to know 
of this kind exertion in his favour. It is my duty 
however to record this instance of generosity, and I 
do it with pleasure and with gratitude. It likewise 
proves that though my father by the fearless avowal 
of his opinions created many enemies, yet that the ho- 
nesty and independence of his conduct procured him 
many friends. 

The first years subscription has been transmitted 
to America, to defray the expence of publishing his 
posthumous works. 

In the year 1800 he was chiefly employed in expe- 
riments, and writing an account of them for various 


206 Continuation of 

publications. In this year also he published his 
treatise in defence of Phlogiston, he revised his 
Church History, the two first volumes of which are 
now reprinted with considerable additions, and he 
added to and improved his Notes on the Scriptures. 

He spent some time in the spring of 1801 in Phi- 
ladelphia, during his stay there he had a violent attack 
of fever which weakened him exceedingly, and from 
the effects of which he never perfectly recovered. 
Added to this the fever and ague prevailed at Nor- 
thumberland and the neighbourhood, for the first 
time since his settlement at the place. He had two 
or three attacks of this disorder ; which though they 
were not very severe, as he had never more than three 
fits at a time, retarded his recovery very much. He 
perceived the effect of his illness in the diminution of 
his strength, and his not being able to take as much 
exercise as he used to do. His spirits however were 
good, and he was very assiduous in making experi- 
ments, chiefly on the pile of Volta, the result of 
which he sent an account of to Nicholson's Journal 
and the Medical Repository. 

In 1802 he began to print his Church History, in 
consequence of the subscription raised by his friends 


the Memoirs.' 207 

in England as before stated. Besides printing three 
volumes of that work, he wrote and printed a treatise 
on Baptism, chiefly in answer to the observations of 
Mr. Robinson on the subject. He likewise made 
some experiments, and replitd to some lemaiks of 
Mr. Cruikshank in defence of the Antiphlogistic 

I am now to describe the last scene of his life, 
which deserves the reader's most serious considera- 
tion, as it shews the powerful effect of his religious 
principles. They made him, not resigned to quit a 
world in which he no longer had any delight, and 
in which no hope of future enjoyment presented it- 
self, but chearful in the certainty of approaching dis- 
solution, and under circumstances that would by 
the world in general have been considered as highly 
enviable. They led him to consider death as the la- 
bourer does sleep at night as being necessary to renew 
his mental and corporeal powers, and fit him for a 
future state of activity and happiness. For though 
since his illness in Philadelphia in 1801 he had never 
recovered his former good state of health, yet he had 
never been confined to his bed a whole day by 
sickness in America until within two days of his 



death, and was never incapacitated for any pursuit 
that he had been accustomed to. He took great 
delight in his garden, and in viewing the little 
improvements going forward in and about the 
town. The rapidly increasing prosperity of the 
country, whether as it regarded its agriculture, ma- 
nufactures, and commerce, or the increasing taste for 
science and literature, were all of them to him a 
source of the purest pleasure. For the last four 
years of his life he lived under an administration, 
the principles and practice of which he perfectly ap- 
proved, and with Mr. Jefferson, the head of that 
administration, he frequently corresponded, and they 
had for each other a mutual regard and esteem. He 
enjoyed the esteem of the wisest and best men in 
the country, particularly at Philadelphia, where his 
religion and his politics did not prevent his being 
kindly and cheerfully received by great numbers.. of 
opposite opinions in both, who thus paid homage to 
his knowledge and virtue. At home he was be- 
loved ; ?nd besides the advantages of an excellent 
library, to which he was continually making additi- 
ons, and of a laboratory that was amply provided 
with every thing necessary for an experimental che- 

the Memoirs. 20P 

mist, he was perfectly freed, as he had happily been 
through life, in consequence of my mother's ability 
and attention, from any attention to worldly con. 
cerns; considering himself, as he used to express 
himself, merely as a lodger, having all his time to 
devote to his theological and philosophical pursuits. 
He had the satisfaction of witnessing the gradual 
spread of his religious opinions, and the fullest con- 
viction that he should prevail over his opponents in 
chemistry. He looked forward with the greatest 
pleasure to future exertions in both these fields, and 
had within the last month or six weeks been project, 
ing many improvements in his apparatus, which he 
meant to make use of upon the return of warm wea- 
ther in the spring. Notwithstanding, therefore, the 
many trials he underwent in this country, he had 
still great sources of happiness left, unalloyed by any 
apprehension of any material defect in any of his 
senses, or any abatement of the vigour of his mind. 
Consistent with the above was his declaration that, 
excepting the want of the society of Mr. L. Mr. B. 
and two or three other particular friends, which 
however was made up to him, in some, though in 
a small degree by their regular correspondence, he 

O had 

110 Continuation of 

had never upon the whole spent any part of his life 
more happily, nor, he believed, more usefully. 

The first part of his illness, independent of his 
general weakness, the result of his illness in Phila- 
delphia in 1801, was a constant indigestion, and a 
difficulty of swallowing meat or any kind of solid 
food unless previously reduced by mastication to a 
perfect pulp. This gradually increased upon him 
till he could swallow liquids but very slowly, and 
led him to suspect, which he did to the last, that 
there must be some stoppage in the oesophagus. 
Latterly he lived almost entirely upon tea, choco- 
late, soups, sago, custard puddings, and the like. 
During all this time of general and increasing debi- 
lity, he was busily employed in printing his Church 
History, and the first volume of the Notes on Scrip- 
ture ; and in making new and original experiments, 
an account of which he sent to the American Philo- 
sophical Society in two numbers, one in answer to 
Dr. Darwin's observations on Spontaneous genera- 
tion, and the other on the unexpected conversion of 
a quantity of the marine acid into the nitrous. 
During this period, likewise, he wrote his pamphlet 
of Jesus and Socrates compared, and re-printed his 


the Memoirs. 211 

Essay on Phlogiston. He would not suffer any one 
to do for him what he had been accustomed to do 
himself; nor did he alter his former mode of life in 
any respect, excepting that he no longer worked in 
his garden, and that he read more books of a mis- 
cellaneous nature than he had been used to do when 
he could work more in his laboratory, which had 
always served him as a relaxation from his other 
From about the beginning of November 1803, 
to the middle of January 1804, his complaint grew 
more serious. He was once incapable of swallowing 
any thing for near thirty hours ; and there being 
some symtoms of inflammation at his stomach, 
blisters were applied, which afforded him relief; and 
by very great attention to his diet, riding out in a 
chair when the weather would permit, and living 
chiefly on the soft parts of oysters, he seemed if not 
gaining ground, at least not getting worse ; and we 
had reason to hope that if lie held out until spring as 
he was, the same attention to his diet with more ex- 
ercise, which it was impossible for him to take on ac- 
count of the cold weather, would restore him to 
health. He, however, considered his life as very 

O 2 precari- 

212 Continuation OF 

precarious, and used to tell the physician who at- 
tended him, that if he could but patch him up for 
six months longer he should be perfectly satisfied, 
as he should in that time be able to complete print- 
ing his works. The swelling of his feet, an alarm- 
ing svmptom of general debility, began about this 

To give some idea of the exertions he made even 
at this time, it is only necessary for me to say, that 
besides his miscellaneous reading, which was at all 
times very great, he read through all the works 
quoted in his comparison of the different systems of 
the Grecian Philosophers with Christianity, com- 
posed that work, and transcribed the whole of it in 
than three months. lie took the precaution of 
transcribing one day in long hand what he had com- 
posed the day before in short hand, that he might by 
that means leave the work complete as far as it went, 
should he not live to complete the whole. During 
this period he composed in a day his second reply to 
Dr. Linn. 

About this time he ceased performing divine ser- 
vice, winch he said he had never before known fcfth- 
self incapable of performing, notwithstanding he had 


the Memoirs. 213 

been a preacher so many years. He likewise now 
suffered me to rake his fire, rub his feet with a 
flesh-brush, and occasionally help him to bed. In 
the mornings likewise he had his fire made for him, 
which he always used to do himself, and generally 
before any of the family was stirring. 

In the last fortnight in January he was troubled 
with alarming fits of indigestion ; his legs swelled 
nearly to his knees, and his weakness increased very 
much. I wrote for him, while he dictated, the con- 
cluding section of his New Comparison, and the Pre- 
face and Dedication. The finishing this work was 
a source of great satisfaction to him, as he consider- 
ed it as a work of as much consequence as any 
he had ever undertaken. The first alarming sym- 
ptom of approaching dissolution was his being unable 
to speak to me upon my entering his room on Tues- 
day morning the 31st of January. In his Diary I 
find he stated his situation as follows : " 111 all day — 
Notable to speak for near three hours." When he 
was able to speak he told me he had slept well, as he 
uniformly had done through the whole of his ill- 
ness ; so that he never would suffer me, though I 
frequently requested he would do it, to sleep in the 

O 3 same 

214 Continuation or 

same room with him ; that he felt as wall as possible ; 
that he got up and shaved himself, which he never 
omitted doing every morning till sh ithin two days of 
his death ; that he went to his laboratory, and then 
found his weakness very great ; that he got back 
with difficulty ; that just aftorward his grand-daugh- 
ter, a child of about six or seven years old, came to 
him to claim the fulfilment of a promise he had 
made her the evening before, to give her a fivepenny 
bit. He gave her the money, and was going to 
speak to her, but found himself unable. He inform- 
ed me of this, speaking very slowly a word at a time ; 
and added, that he had never felt more pleasantly in 
his whole life than he did during the time he was 
unable to speak. After he had taken his medicine, 
which was bark and laudanum, and drank a bason of 
strong mutton broth, he recovered surprizingly, and 
talked with cheerfulness to all who called upon him, 
but as though he was fully sensible that he had not 
lono- to live. He consented for the first time that I 
should sleep in the room with him. 

On Wednesday, February 1, he writes, "I was 
at times much better in the morning : capable of 
some business: continued better all day." He 


the Memoirs." 215 

Upake this morning as strong as usual, and took in 
die course of the day a good deal of nourishment 
with pleasure. He said, that he felt a return of 
strength, and with it there was a duty to perform. 
He read a good deal in Nevvcome's Translation of 
the New Testament, and Stevens's History of the 
War. In the afternoon he gave me some directions 
how to proceed with the printing his work in case 
he should die. He gave me directions to stop the 
printing of the second volume, and to begin upon 
the third, that he might see how it was begun, and 
that it might serve as a pattern to me to pro- 
ceed by. 

On Thursday, th© 2d, he wrote thus for the last 
time in his Diary : " Much worse : incapable of 
business : Mr. Kennedy came to receive instruc- 
tions about printing in case of my death." He sat 
up, however, a great part of the day, was cheer- 
ful, and gave Mr. Cooper and myself some direc- 
tions, with the same composure as though he had 
only been about to leave home for a short time. 
Though it was fatiguing to him to talk, he read a 
good deal in the works above mentioned. 

On Friday he was much better. He sat up a 
O 4 g° od 

216 Continuation op 

good part of the clay reading Newcome ; Dr. Dis- 
ney's Translation of the Psalms ; and same chapters 
ia the Greek Testament, w hich was his daily practice. 
He corrected a proof-sheet of the Notes on Isaiah. 
When he went to bed he was not so well : he had 
an idea he should not live another day. At prayer, 
time he wished to have the children kneel by his 
bedside, saying, ic gave him great pleasure to see the 
little things kneel ; and, thinking he possibly might 
not see them again, he gave them his blessing. 

On Saturday, the 4th, my father got up for 
about an hour while his bed was made. He said he 
felt more comfortable in bed than up. He read a 
£ood deal, and looked over the first sheet of the third 
volume of the Notes, that he might see how we were 
likely to go on with it ; and having examined the 
Greek and Hebrew quotations, and finding them 
right, he said he was satisfied we should finish the 
work very well. In the course Of the day, he ex- 
pressed his gratitude in being permitted to die quiet- 
ly in his family, without pain, with every convenience 
and comfort he could wish for. He dwelt upon the 
peculiarly happy situation in which it had pleased the 
Divine Being to place him in life ; and the great ad^ 


the Memoirs. 217 

vantage he had enjoyed in the acquaintance and 
friendship of some of the best and wisest men in the 
age in which he lived, and the satisfaction lie derived 
from having led an useful as well as a happy life. 

On Sunday he was much weaker, and only sat up 
in an armed chair while his bed was made. Ke de- 
sired me to read to him the eleventh chapter of John. 
I was going on to read to the end of the chapter, but 
he stopped me at the 45th verse- Pie dwelt for 
some time on the advantage he had derived from 
reading the scriptures daily, and advised me to do 
the same ; saying, that it would prove to me, as it 
had done to him, a source of the purest pleasure. 
He desired me to reach him a pamphlet which was 
at his bed's head, Simpson on the Duration of fu- 
ture Punishment. " It will be a source of satisfaction 
to you to read that pampnlet," said he, giving it to 
me, " It contains my sentiments, and a belief in 
them will be a support to you in the most trying cir- 
cumstances, as it has been to me. We shall all meet 
finally : we only require different degrees of disci- 
pline, suited to our different tempers, to prepare us 

for final happiness." Upon Mr. coming into 

bis room, he said, " You see, Sir K I am still living." 


218 Continuation op 

Mr. observed, he would always live. " Yes," 

said he, " I believe I shall ; and we shall all meet 
again in another and a better world." He said this 

with great animation, laying hold on Mr. 's 

hand in both his. 

Before prayers he desired me to reach him three 
publications, about which he would give me some 
directions next morning. His weakness would not 
permit him to do it at that time. 

At prayers he had all the children brought to his 
bed-side as before. After prayers they wished him 
a good night, and were leaving the room. He de- 
sired them to stay, spoke to them each separately. 
He exhorted them all to continue to love each other. 
"And you, little thing," speaking to Eliza, "re- 
member the hymn you learned ; ' Birds in their lit- 
tle nests agree,' &x. I am going to sleep as well as 
you : for death is only a good long sound sleep in 
the grave, and we shall meet again." He congratu- 
lated us on the dispositions of our children; said it 
was a satisfaction to see them likely to turn out well ; 

and continued for some time to express his confi- 

dence m a happy immorality, and in a future state, 

which would afford us an ample field for the exerti- , 

on of our faculties. 


the Memoirs. 219 

On Monday morning, the 6th of February, after 
having lain perfectly still till four o'clock in the 
morning, he called to me, but in a fainter tone than 
usual, to give him some wine and tincture of bark. 
I asked him how he felt. He answered, he had no 
pain, but appeared fainting away gradually. About 
an hour after, he asked me for some chicken broth, 
of which he took a tea-cup full. His pulse was 
quick, weak, and fluttering, his breathing, though 
easy, short. About eight o'clock, he asked me to 
give him some egg and wine. After this he lay quite 
still till ten o'clock, when he desired me and Mr. 
Cooper to bring him the pamphlets we had looked 
out the evening before. He then dictated as clearly 
and distinctly as he had ever done in his life the ad- 
ditions and alterations he wished to have made in 
each. Mr. Cooper took down the substance of 
what he said, which, when he had done, I read to 
him. He said Mr. Cooper had put it in his own 
language ; he wished it to be put in his. I then 
took a pen and ink to his bed-side. He then re- 
peated over again, nearly word for word, what he 
had before said ; and when I had done, I read it 
©ver to him. il That ie right ; I have now done." 


220 Continuation of 

About half an hour after he desired, in a faint 
voice, that we would move him from the bed on 
which he lay to a cot, that he might lie with his 
lower limbs horizontal, and his head upright. He 
died in about ten minutes after we had moved him, 
but breathed his last so easy, that neither myself or 
my wife, who were both sitting close to him, per- 
ceived it at the time. He had put his hand to his 
face, which prevented our observing it. ,, 

The above account, which conveys but a very in- 
adequate idea of the composure and chearfulnees of 
his last moments deserves the attention of unbelievers 
in general, particularly of Philosophical Unbelievers. 
They have known him to be zealous and active in 
the pursuit of Philosophical truths and to be ever 
ready to acknowledge any mistakes he may have fal- 
len into. By the perusal of these Memoirs they have 
found that he gradually, and after much thought and 
reflection abandoned all those opinions which disgrace 
what is usually called Christianity in the eyes of rati- 
onal men and whose inconsistency with reason and 
common sense has most probably been the cause of 
their infidelity and of their total inattention to the e- 
vidences of Christianity. These opinions he aban- 

"the Memoirs. 221 

cloned, because he could not find them supported 
either in the Scriptures or in the genuine writings of 
the early christians. They must be sensible that 
the same desire for truth and the same fearless spirit 
of enquiry and the same courage in the open avowal 
of the most obnoxious tenets would have led him to 
have discarded religion altogether had he seen reason 
so to do, and there is little doubt but that he would 
have been subject to less obloquy by so doing 
than by exposing the various corruptions of Chris- 
tianity in the manner he did. They have seen 
however that in proportion as he attended to the sub- 
ject his faith in Christianity increased and produced 
that happy disposition of mind described in these 
Memoirs. The subject is therefore well deserving 
of their attention and they should be induced from so 
fair an example, and the weight due to my father's 
opinions, to make themselves fully acquainted with 
the arguments in favour of Christianity before they 

reject it as an idle fable. 

Many unbelievers have, no doubt, borne with 
great patience severe calamities ; they have suffered 
death with great fortitude when engaged in a good 
cause, and many have courted death to serve their 


222 Continuation op 

friends br their country. It must however be allow- 
ed that there is no great merit in meeting death with 
fortitude when it cannot be avoided, and likewise that 
the above cases cannot be absolutely calculated upon,. 
as there is no sufficient motive to account for their 
conduct. But upon a truly practical christian there 
is the greatest dependance to be placed for acting 
well in all the situations in which he may be found*, 
his highest interest being connected with the perfor- 
mance of the greatest duties ; and even supposing 
that many persons, who are not christians, from 
favourable circumstances attendant upon their birth 
and education, and from a naturally happy tempera- 
ment of body and mind, may, and, it must be allowed 
do acquire a habit of disinterested benevolence and 
may in general be depended upon to act uniformly 
well in life, still the christian has a decided advantage 
over them in the hour of death, as to consider death 
as necessary to his entering upon a new and enlarged 
sphere of activity and enjoyment, is a privilege that 
belongs to him alone. 



Of the discoveries in factitious Airs before the time 
of Dr. Priestley, and of those made by himself 

_L)r. PRIESTLEY has given a general though 
brief account* of what had been clone by his prede- 
cessors in this department of experimental Philoso- 
phy, and Sir John Pringle in his discourse before 
the Royal Society on occasion of presenting Dr. 
Priestley with the Copley Medal in 1772f has en- 
tered expressly, and more fully into the history of 
pneumatic discoveries. The same subject was taken 
up about three years after by Mr. Lavoisier still 
more at large, in the introduction to his first Vol. 
of Physical and Chemical Essays, of which a transla- 
tion was published by Mr. Henry of Manchester in 
1776. It is unnecsssary to detail here what they 
have written on the history of these discoveries. It 


* In the, beginning of his first vol. of experiments : it is an abridg- 
ment of Sir J. Pringle's discourse. 

t Discourses p. 4. 

224 Appendix No. 1. 

may be observed that no mention is made by any of 
these gentlemen of an experiment of Mr. John 
Maud, in July 1736*, who procured (and confined) 
infla i.mable air from a solution of Iron in the vitrio- 
lic acid. Inflammable air had been procured from 
the White Haven coal mines, and exhibited to the 
Royal Society by Mr. James Lowther, but I do not 
recollect any notice of its having been collected 
from a solution of metals in acids, and its character 
ascertained before Mr. Maud's experiment ; for 
Hales, though he procured both inflammable and 
nitrcus air, did not examine their properties. But 
it is much more extraordinary that neither Sir John 
Pringle who was a Physician, or Mr. Lavoisier 
who was so much occupied under government, re- 
specting the Theory of the formation, and the prac- 
tice of manufacturing Saltpetre from Nitre beds, 
should not have known, or have noticed the five trea- 
tises ofMayowon chemical, phisiological and patholo- 
gical subjects, published a century preceding. Ma- 

* Martyn's abridgment of Hie Philosophical transactions v. 9. 
p. 596. I think Maud's experiment in 1736 likely to have suggested 
tiose of Mr. Cavendish in 1766. 

Chemistry, Sec. 225 

yow is quoted by Hales,* by Lemery,f and by 


* Vegetable Statics v. 2. p. 234. 

t Mem. de 1' Acad. Royale 1717 p. 48. On ne ditpourtant point 
trop sous quelle forme ce nitre se contient dans l'air, et Mayou, Auteur 
Anglois et grand defenseur du Nitre-Aerien voulant eclaircir cette 
difficult^, suppose l'air impregne par tout d'une espece de nitre me- 
taphysique, qui ne merite pas trop d'etre refute, quoi-qu'il l'ait ce- 
pendant ete suflfisamment par Barchusen et par Schelhamer. Le 
fondement de l'opinion du Nitre aerien, e'est comme le rapporte 
Mayou lui meme, qu'apres avoir enleve a une teire tout le Nitre 
qu'elle contenoit, si on l'expose ensuite a Pair pendant un certain 
tcms elle en reprend de nouveau : il est vrai que si l'observation 
etoit parfaitement telle qu'elle vient d'etre rapportee, on auroit une 
plus grande raison qu'onn'en a, de supposer dans l'air une treVfrrande 
quantite de nitre, et de mettre sur le compte de ce nitre aerien un 
grand nombre d'efTets auquels il n'a certainement aucunc part. 

The experiment of Lemery mentioned in Dr. Watson's Essay on 
Nitre, is in p. 54 of the Mera. de l'acad. royale for 1717 not for 

"It sometimes happens to men whose genius far transcends the 
level of their day, to be from that very circumstance neither under- 
stood nor believed by their contemporaries. Until the discoveries of 
modern chemistry, who would have given Sir Isaac Newton credit for 
his conjecture that the Diamond was an inflammable substance ? The 
fact which Lemery sneers at, the reproduction of nitre in the earth, is 
established -beyond contradiction by the authors quoted by Dr. Wat- 

226 Appendix No. 1. 

Brownrigg,* but though they appear to have read 
his work, it is evident that they knew not how to 
appreciate, or to profit by it. Hallerf also refers 


son (Chem. Ess. v. 1 p. 318—321) and in Bovle's account of the nitre 
earths in Spain, and in Andreossi's memoir on the Saltpetre of Egypt. 
Though it is far from improbable that after lixiviation these earths 
may again become gradually impregnated with putrefying animal or 
vegetable matter to serve for the future crops of nitre. 

* Philosophical transactions v. 55 p. 232. 

•\ Dr. Priestley in his preliminary account of the discoveries and 
theories on respiration (Exp. on air v. 3 p. 356. abridged edit.) quotes 
Hailer's great work on Physiology. Haller quotes Mayow in three or four 
places ; but it is no wonder the quotations did not strike Dr. Priest- 
ley with any curiosity to examine Mayow's book, for Haller certainly 
did not understand his theory. For instance Lib. 8. § 13. Nitrum 
aereum. Si ad verum sensum nitri aerei hypothesis revocata fuisaet 
parum u'tique ab ea differt quam novissime proposuimus. Nitrum 
quidem ipsum incautiosius olim Physiologi in aere obvolitare scrip- 
serunt, et ex pluvia et nive colligi ; idemque passim ex rupibus 
efflorescere (Sprat ex Henshaw p. 264 major cal. hum.) exque plantis 
et stercoribus educi (Fludd Niewentydt, 563-4. Mayow de nitro 
aereo. Lower de Cordc c. 3. Thurston 52. 53. Besse Analyse torn 
1 et en lettre en reponse a M. Helvet. 114.) id nitrum aiunt in pul- 
monibus ad sangainem venire, et ab eo ruborem ilium elegantem, et 
fermentationem (Mayow, Thurston penult, ess. T. 3 p. 265 et calorenv 
sanguinis accedere aut vicissim sanguinem condensari. 


Chemistry, 8cc. 227 

to him, and he is respectfully quoted by Blumen- 
bach* : but his book nevertheless long remained 
in comparative obscurity. From their time Mayow 
has been neglected until his writings were noticed 
by Dr. Forster, in 1780,f and again announced 


Certainly the id nitrum, is not Mayow's. M. Rosel seems first to 
have ascertained the existence of nitre in plants. A late experiment 
of Dr. Priestley's, of which he gave an account in a letter to Dr. 
Wistar, seems to make it probable that there may be nitre in snow. 

* Blumenbach's Physiology, Caldwell's translation, Philadelphia, 1795. 
§ 162. Speaking of the theories of animal heat, " But all these hy- 
potheses are embarrassed with innumerable difficulties ; whereas on 
the other hand the utmost simplicity, and an entire correspondence 
with the phenomena of nature combine in recommending and corn- 
firming that doctrine in which the lungs are considered as the focus 
or fire place where animal heat is generated, and the deplogisticated 
part of the air which we breathe as the fuel that supports the vital 
flame. That justly celebrated character Jo. Mayow sketched 
out formerly the leading traces and the first great outlines of this 
doctrine which in our times has been greatly improved, extended and 
farther elucidated by the labours of the illustrious Crawford." 

Dr. Darwin however is certainly right in suppos/ng that heat is 
erolved in many other processes of the animal economy, beside in- 

■f See the translation of Scheelc by Dr. John Rcinhold Forster 

1780 p. XIII. 

In p. 


228 Appendix, No. 1. 

as almost a discovery in the chemical world, by 
Dr. Beddoes in the year 1790. His doctrines touch 
so nearly on the sul^sequent discoveries of Priestley, 
Scheele, Lavoisier, Crawford, Goodwin, &c. that it 
seems absolutely necessary to discuss his pretensi- 
ons, before those of his successors can be accurate- 
ly admitted. As I am acquainted with Dr. Bcd- 
does's pamphlet on Mayow, from the analytical re- 
view of it only, (V. vi.) and have no opportunity 
here of consulting it, I shall take up Mayow's book, 
and give an account of his tenets, from the work 

Two of Mayow's Essays, viz. de Respiratione 
and de Rachitide, appear to have been published at 
Leyden, in 1671, the author who died at the age of 
34,being then 26 years old. The propositions which 
I have thought it necessary to extract from Mayow's 
work,(ed. of 1674, Oxford,) and which I shall insert, 
will give a concise, but faithful view of his dis- 

In p. 437 of v. 5 of the analytical review of Hopson's Chemistry, 
before Dr. Beddoes's account of Mayow in 1790 the latter is stated 
as the author of discoveries that might have given rise to the .pre. 
sent system of pneumatic Chemistry. 

Chemistry, 8cc. 229 

coveries and conjectures in pneumatic Chemis- 
try.* The abridgements of Beddoes and Fourc- 
roy, I have no opportunity to consult, and as May- 
ow's book is far from being common, I have deem- 
ed it by no means an unnecessary labour to give the 
reader an opportunity of judging for himself, what 
is the precise extent of the claim, which the patrons 
of Mayow's reputation may fairly set up. It is also, 
of the more importance in a history of this subject, 
to notice the pretensions of this writer, as it appears 
that Boyle's experiments on artificial air, in his 
physico-mechanical experiments were not made until 
the year 1676 et seq. Though the first edition of 
that treatise repeatedly quoted by Mayow was in 
1661, Mayow's experiments therefore ought to 
have been, and probably were known to Boyle at 

the publication of his last edition. f 


* I believe Dr. Beddoes gives no more than the heads of each 
chapter and, a brief analysis of the contents. Dr. Beddoes in' his re- 
marks on Fourcroy's account of Mayow, Ann. de Chimie. No. 85, 
Nich. Jour. v. 3 quarto p. 108 states Mayow at the time of his death 
to have been only 27 and 28: but he wa* born in 1645 and died in 
1769. Biog. Diet. 8vo. ed. of 1798. 

f I do not find that Boyle quotes Mayow, though their labourr, irr 



230 Appendix, No. I. 

The following is an analysis of Mayow's essays, 
so far as relates to his chemical Philosophy. 

Chap. Is/. Of Nitre. The air is impregnated 
with a vital, igneous, and highly fermentative spirit 
of a nitro-salme nature, p. 1. 

Nitre is a salt consisting of an acid and an alka- 
line part, as appears by the Analysis, and by the ge- 
neration of nitre ; for if this salt be deflagrated with 
sulphur, the acid spirit will fly off, and may be col- 
lected by means of a tubulated retort and a receiver: 
and so if it be deflagrated with tartar, the residuum 
will be equal in weight to the tartar employed, 
though much of that, is of a foetid oily nature. 
This appeals also from the composition of nitre, by 
the addition of spirit of nitre to an alcali, p. 2-4. 
The fixed part of nitre is obtained from the earth ; 


the same field were contemporary. But Boyle in his hidden qualities 
of the air published in 1674 has an observation that looks as if derived 
from Mayow. " And this undestroyed springiness of the air, with 
the necessity of fresh air to the life of hot animals, suggests a great 
suspicion of some vital substance if I may so call it, diffused through 
the air, whether it be a volatile nitre or rather some anonymous sub- 
stance, sidereal or subterraneal, though not improperly of kin to that 
•which seems so necessary to the- maintenance of other flames.'* 

Chemistry, &c7 231 

pure earth being probably a compound of salt and 
sulphur, p. 8. 

Chap. 2d. On the aereal and fiery spirit of nitre. 
The air seems to contain an acid, as appears from 
the regeneration of vitriolic acid after the calcination 
of Vitriol, and from the rusting of steel filings in a 
moist air ; p. 10. A component part of the acid of 
nitre, is derived from the air, which evidently con- 
tains something necessary to the support of flame. 
But this aereal pabulum of flame, is not air itself, 
for air remains when the confineu. t. ; per is extin- 
guished: nor is it as vulgarly supposed, the salt 
called nitre, p. 12. But that these fire-air particles 
exist also in nii:re !=> evident, since this salt will sup- 
port the combus.Ion of sulphur in vacuo. Fill 
a tube with gunpowder slightly moistened, and it 
will burn out in vacuo, or with its mouth inverted 
over water. Hence the aereal part of nitre, is the 
same with the fire-air particles of the atmosphere, 
and is one component part of the acid spirit of nitre : 
the other being (like the fixed part) obtained from 
the earth, p. 17. 18. The fiery particles thus com- 
mon to nitre and to the air, he denominates nitro- 
aefeal. It is these that give causticity to spirit of 

P 4 nitre, 

232 Appendix, No. 1. 

ftitre,, and occasion the red fumes observed in dis- 
tilling it, p. 18. They do not take fire of them- 
selves in nitre, because they are inveloped wiih 
moisture ; but when combined with salt of tartar, 
and thrown on the fire in a dry state they inflame, 
' p. 20. 

Chap. 3d. Of the nature of the mtro-aereal and 
fiery spirit. Fire he conceives to consist of thesp nitro- 
aereal particles set in violent motion by means of sul- 
phureous bodies, in the cases of culinar) fire : but by- 
some other means, in the cases of the solar rays col- 
lected by a burning glass, and of the celestial 
fires. The corrosive and caustic nature both of fire 
and nitrous acid, seems to argue that it proceeds in 
bo'h from the nitre •cereal particles they contain, 22- 
24. That fire is not of a sulphureous nature is evi- 
dent, for nitre will not take fire in an ignited cruci- 
ble ; but oil thrown i. , takes fire immediately. So 
if a piece of metal be held over a candle, the fire par- 
ticles pass through the metal, but the sulphureous, 
smoke adheres to the under side. p. 27. 

That the heat occasioned by a burning glass, con- 
sists of these nitro-aercal particles is evident, for 
diaphoretic antimony may be made, either first by 


Chemistry, kc. 233 

calcination with a lens, or secondly, by the repeated 
affusion of nitrous acid, or thirdly, by the deflagration 
of nitre on the antimony. Diaphoretic antimony 
made by calcination, increases on weight,* by 
means of the nitro-aereal particles fixed in it by the 
process, p. 28. 29. 

Chap. 4t/i. On the origin of acid liquors, and 
the earthy part of Sph its of ?iitre. From p. 34, 
it appears that he knew nothing of the absorption 
and combination of his nitro-acreal particles in the 
vitriolic acid, during the combustion of sulphur, 
but explains the whole mechanically by the sa- 
line portion of the sulphur being broken down 
into minute pointed particles, by the violent attrition 
of the nitro-aereal particles, and so becoming fluid 
and sharpened. He seems too, not to know that 
the colcothar of martial vitriol is no component 
part of sulphur, p. 37. The same mechanical ex- 


* It was first observed by John Rey in 1630 that metals calcined, 
gain weight by the absorption of air. See an account of his book by 
M. Bayen Journ. de Rozier 1775 v. 1 p. 48. There are also some 
experiments by Boyle that shew the accession of weight on the cal- 
cination of metals, but he does not seem aware of the theory . Shaw V. 
Boyle, Fire and Flame weighed v. 2 p. 394, &c 

234 Appendix, No. 1, 

planation he applies to the formation of the ligneous 
acidc, and to the impregnation of the caput mortuum 
or colcothar of vitriol, with fresh acid by exposure 
of air. In the succeeding paragraph, p. 39, he sup- 
poses that marchasite (martial pyrites) imbibes the 
nitro-aereal particles from the atmosphere, and thus 
acid is formed. In like manner he explains the for- 
mation of acids produced by fermentation, by the 
c /ion between the nitro-aereal, and the sulphureo- 
saline particles of the mass. p. 41. So also he 
supposes nitrous acid to be produced by the deten. 
tion of his nitro-aereal particles by the terrene saline 
particles found in the earth, p. 43. Hence he con- 
cludes generally, p. 43, that acid salts are formed 
from a saline Ixsis brought into fusion or fluidity 
by the nitro-aereal nart of the air : and sums up his 
theory of nitre, by stating it to be a triple salt, com- 
posed of nitro-aereal particles, united to a terrene 
basis forming the acid, which then unites to the fixed 
basis, supplied also by the earth. 

Chap. 5th. On Fermentation. He gives in 
this chapter his theory of fermentation, as arising 
from the conflict of his nitro-aereal principle which 
bethinks may be termed mercury, and the sulphure- 

Chemistry, he. 235 

ous principle : evidently meaning by the latter, the 
Phlogiston of Stahl : and he states broadly, p. 60. 
that pure sulphur can never admit of accension, 
but by means of the nitro-aereal particles obtained 
from the atmosphere. The rest of his reasoning in 
this chapter, does not seem deserving of further 

Chap. 6th. On the nitro-aereal spirit as the 
cause of rigidity and elasticity. These he ex- 
plains by the fixation and state of his nitro-aereal 
particles in bodies endowed with these proper- 
ties. In p. 69 he endeavours to account why 
boiled water freezes sooner than that which has not 
been boiled ; a fact which Dr. Black has made the 
subject of a paper in the 45th vol. of the Philosophi- 
cal transactions. But his reasonings throughout 
this chapter are not calculated to add to his reputa- 
tion, or to the mass of knowledge of the present 

Chap. 7th. The elastic force of the Air de- 
pends on its nitro-aereal particles. In what way 
exhausted air is reimpregnated with them. Of 
the elements of Heat and Cold. This chapter 
contains experiments to shew that the elasticity 


236 Appendix, No. 1. 

Of the air is owing to the nitro-aereal particles 
contained in it : which may be destroyed by the 
burning of a candle or other combustible sub- 
stances, and also by the breathing of animals. 
When the atmospheric air contained in a glass jar 
inverted over water, will no longer support flame 
or animal life, the water rises in the jar, owing to 
the diminished elasticity of the air, not being able to 
counteract the pessure of the surrounding atmos- 
phere on the water p. ICO. He finds p. 101 that 
the diminution by burning a taper in a given quan- 
tity of the air, is about one thirtieth of the whole, 
and by the breathing of mice and other animals 
about one fourteenth. Thence he concludes p. 106 
that by means of respiration the elastic part of the 
air enters into the blood, and that the sole use of 
the lungs is not as some suppose, to break down the 
blood in its passage into very minute particles. That 
combustion and respiration have similar effects on 
atmospherical air, lie concludes, p. 108, from the 
fact, that a candle and a small animal inclosed tog** 
ther in a glass jar over water, the one will not burn, 
nor the other remain alive above half the time that 
they would if alone. Mayow however, did not con- 

Chemistpy, &c. 237 

sider his nitro- igneous and elastic particles to be ei- 
ther pure air, or even a component part of the com- 
mon air, as air, notwithstanding the ambiguity of 
the passages in p. 114 and 118 ; but as particles of 
a different nature, attached to and fixed in the atmos- 
pheric particles ; and detached fexcussasj by the 
means above mentioned, p. 118 and 121. His ex- 
planation of elasticity generally in this chap, and of 
the difficulty arising from the obvious resistance to 
the Atmosphere, and the expansibility of the air in 
which a taper has been extinguished, or an animal 
died, seem too obscure and unintelligible to merit 
transcribing. It is evident however upon the whole 
from p. 123 compared with p. 100 and 135 that he ' 
conceived the diminution of such air to arise from 
diminished elasticity, but he supposes it to be den- 
ser than common air 123. In a subsequent part 
of this chapter p. 128 et seq. he states his theory of 
the manner in which deteriorated air recovers its 
loss, viz. that the nitro-aereal particles being lighter 
than the atmospherical, float abundantly in the higher 
regions ; and that the part of the atmosphere depriv- 
ed of them below, being forced upward by the 
pressure of the atmosphere above, obtains a renewal 


238 Appendix, No. 1. 

of these particles by mixture with the strata where 
they abound. 

The element of fire, he supposes to reside in the 
body of the Sun, which is no other than a mass of 
nitro-aereal particles driven in perpetual gyration 
with immense velocity. Cold, which he considers 
as some thing positive (p. 130) he thinks consists in 
these particles assuming a pointed form, and moving 
not in gyration but strait forward. Much of his rea- 
soning indeed throughout the book, savours greatly 
of the mechanical and corpuscular philosophy ^pre- 
valent in his day. 

Chap. 8th. On the nitro-aereal spirit as inspir- 
ed by animals. Formerly he thought that in respi- 
ration the nitro-aereal particles were rubbed or sha- 
ken off (atterere, ex cuter e 146) from the common 
air by the action of the lungs, at present he thinks 
the air itself enters the mass of the blood, is there 
deprived of these particles, and of part of its elasticity. 
To prove this he produces an experiment of the di- 
minution of air by the vapours from iron dissolved in 
nitrous acid: but the beautiful deductions of Dr. 
Priestley from a similar experiment, never occurred 
to him ; on the contrary he expressly states that it 


Chemistry, &c. 239 

is an Aura, but not Air p. 145 and though after- 
ward in chap. 9 p. 163, 164 he inclines to doubt y 
yet again in p. 168 he denies it that character. 

In p. 146 he proceeds to state the uses of these 
nitro-aereal particles, which (147) he considers as 
the principle of life and motion both in animals and 
vegetables. By the mutual action ofthe nitro-aereal, 
with the sulphureo-saline particles contained in the 
blood, a fermentation is excited necessary to animal 
life, and to tl>e warm fluid circulation ofthe blood 
(ad sanguinis cestum.) To these particles imbibed 
from the air, he attributes the difference in colour be- 
tween the venous and arterial blood; and he shews 
this, from the numerous air bubbles arising in an 
exhausted receiver from warm arterial blood : but 
his experiment to illustrate the difference, from the 
colour produced by the nitrous acid with vol, alk* 
seems very little to the purpose p. 150. 

To the fermentation arising from this mixture of 
nitro-aereal particles with the blood, he ascribes ani- 
mal heat, and accounts satisfactorily for the increased 
heat of the body during strong exercise, from the 
more frequent inspirations occasioned by the exerti- 
on (p. 152, 306 :) but his replies to the objections 


240 Appendix, No. 1. 

of Dr. Willis, drawn from the phenomena of fer- 
menting mixtures, are very inconclusive. 

Chap. 9th. Whether air can be generated anew. 
He repeats the experiment of dissolving iron in dilute 
nitrous acid, and finds that though some of the va- 
pour be absorbed, a portion still remains unconden- 
sible even by severe cold. On substituting dilute 
vitr. for nitr. acid he finds an aura which is hardly 
absorbed or condensed at all. Hence he doubts 
whether these aurae be not entitled to the appellation 
of air, especially as by subsequent experiment he 
shews that they are equally expansible with common 
air. In making this last experiment he exhibits the 
method of transferring air from one vessel to another 
(Tab. 5. Fig. 5.) much in the manner afterwards 
described by Mr. Cavendish in 1766.* From the 
inability of these aurae to support animal life (Tab. 5. 
Fig. 6.) he concludes finally that they are not air, 
though not very dissimilar p. 171. The succeed, 
ing five chapters do not seem to contain any facts or 
conjectures that can add to Mayow's reputation. 


* Boyle had Invented an apparatus for transferring air from one 
receiver of an air-pump to another, but not under water. 

Chemistry, &c« 241 

Kis Hypotheses are completely superceded by the 
more accurate knowledge of the present day. In 
his tract on quick lime p. 225 he seems to have 
forestalled the acidum pingue of Dr. Meyer publish- 
ed exactly a century afterward. It may be noted 
that in his treatise on the Bath waters p. 259, he de- 
scribes fishes as collecting vital air from the water, and 
respiring like land animals. (Aereum aliquod vitale 
ab aqua, veluti alias ab aura secretum et in cm oris 
massam trajiciatur.) The air bladder he considers 
rather as a reservoir of air to be inspired, than a re-> 
ceptacle for excreted air ; though the latter opinion 
is made probable by Dr» Priestley.* 

The first part of his Treatises dn Respiration is 
is chiefly anatomical. In p. 300 et seq. he states 
more fully his opinion, that vital air, is of a nitron 
saline nature : that it is the principle of life, both in 
Animals and Vegetables \ that combined with the 
sulphureo-saline particles in the blood, it is the sti- 
mulus to the muscular fibre, and of course to the 


* See Nich. Journ. r. 3 p. 119 on the probability of fishes separating 
oxygen from the water tbey inhabit. 

242 Appendix, No. 1. 

heart as a muscle, p. 305 ; but that the fermentation 
occasioned by the introduction of these particles 
into the blood, is not confined to the left ventricle 
of the heart, but commences, in the passage of the 
blood through the lungs, and continues in the Ar- 
teries. This evidently approaches the theory, ad* 
vanced by Dr. Gocdwyn in his tract on the Connec- 
tion of life with respiration about sixteen years 
ago, viz. that the pure air combined with the biood 
is the stimulus to the left ventricle of the heart, 
and produces the alternate contraction, and dilation 
on which the circulation depends. Dr. Lower, in 
his treatise de motu sanguinis, and Fracassati, and 
Dr. Frederick Slare attributed the change of the co- 
lour of venous blood into a florid red, to the combina- 
tion of the air with it. Lower I believe preceded 
Mayow, who quotes him, p. 148; the date of Fra- 
cassati's and Dr. Slare's observations] I have not 
been able to ascertain, but they must have been 
near the time of Mayow. Lowth. Ab. v. iii. p. 

In his third treatise on respiration, he explains the 
Animal ceconomy of the foetus in utero, by suggest- 
ing that the foetus is supplied by the placenta, not 


Chemistry, &c. 243 

with venous, but with arterial blood brought by 
the umbilical Arteries ; so that the required stimu- 
lus of the nitro-aereal particles being thus conveyed, 
supercedes the necessity of the lungs for the purpose. 
This he ingeniously illustrates by the known expe- 
riment, that a dog into whom arterial blood is infus- 
ed, though respiring with great difficulty before, 
hardly respires at all. A similar theory he applies 
to the life of the chick in ovo. This treatise seems 
to have suggested Dr. Beddoes's illustration of his 
theory of consumption from the state of pregnancy. 

In a subsequent Essay on animal spirits, he con- 
ceives them to be, if not the same with the nitro-aere- 
al part of the atmosphere, yet to consist of this, so 
far as they are necessary to the production of muscu- 
lar motion, which he attributes entirely as before to 
nitro-aereal particles, p. 24 and 40, of chap. 4, on the 
animal spirits. 

I do not observe any' thing else in Mayow's book 
worth noting on the present occasion ; or sufficient- 
ly connected with pneumatic Chemistry. 

From the analysis thus given of* what Mayow 


f At the time this was written neither Dr. Bostock's treatise on 



244 Attendix, No. 1. 

has advanced, it appears, that he clearly comprehend- 
ed the atmosphere to consist of a mixture of two 
parts, the one the efficient cause of life and of com- 
bustion, the other not of itself necessary to either. 

That the vital part of the air, was also a constituent 
part of nitre, the effects of both being in essential 
particulars the same.* 

That the vital part of the atmosphere entering the 
blood through die vessels in the lungs, is conveyed 
to the left ventricle of the heart, and becomes the 
stimulus to the contractions of that muscle, and is 
equally essential to the whole system of muscular 


respiration or the books therein quoted p. 200 had arrived here. 
Nor have I had an opportunity of consulting the references there 
made to Prof. Robinson, Dr. Thompson, Dr. Yeates, or Fourcroy's 
account of Mayow. 

* Mr. Ray wrote " A dissertatson (in 169G) about respiration," in 
which he supposes the air to pass from the bronchia and lungs into 
the substance of the blood, and there (pabuli inslar) it foments and 
maintains the vital flame which he supposes to be in the sulphureous 
parts of the blood, as the air foments the common flame of a candle, 
and that the nitre has nothing tc do with it. See Durham's collection 
g£ Ray's letters. 

Chemistry, &c. 245 

That the vital part of the atmosphere thus com- 
bined with the blood becomes also the source of 
animal heat. 

That this vital part is equally necessary to the foe- 
tus in uter o as to the adult, and that the use of the 
lungs in the former case is superceded by the func- 
tions of the umbilical artery and placenta ; by means 
of which, blood already impregnated with the vital 
air, is conveyed to the foetus. 

That the respiration of fishes, is dependant on the 
particles of air mixed with watery element they in- 

That heat, flame, and combustion, depend on two 
universal principles, and the gentleness or violence 
of their mutual conflict : the one being a principle 
of inflammability universally diffused in combusti- 
ble bodies, and the other the vital or igneous part of 
the atmosphere. 

These propositions evidently touch upon the most 
brilliant of the pneumatic discoveries of the authors 
already quoted ; and not a little extraordinary it is, 
that they should have remained so long unknown, 
unnoticed, and not understood. 

The sulphur of Mayow is decidedly the Phlogis- 
Q 3 ton 

246 Appendix No. 1. 

ton of Stahl ; the fire air of the former is the fire air 
of Scheele, the dephlogisticated air of Priestley, and 
the Oxygen of Lavoisier. 

The combination of oxygen with the blood by 
means of respiration, first discovered as was thought 
by Lavoisier, is clearly stated by Mayow -, who has 
also forestalled the elaborate theories of Crawford on 
animal heat, of Goodwyn, on muscular stimulus, 
and of Eeddoes on the succedaneum for respiration in 
the foetus. 

Boyle, though he must certainly have known of 
Mayow, neither quotes him, nor uses, or improves 
on his experiments ; though as I have already remark- 
ed, he seems to have had notions of the atmosphere 
much like those adopted by Mayow. Whether 
this neglect arose from the pride of birth, or the pride 
of knowledge, or the pride of age, (for Boyle was al- 
most twice the age of Mayow) or from jealousy of 
Mayow's abilities, cannot now be ascertained. From 
that time until Hales published his statics in 1726, 
pneumatic experiments were neglected, and the ma- 
thematical phiiosophy~which Newton's discoveries 
rendered fashionable, absorbed for many years the 
attention of men of Science, particularly in England. 


Chemistry, &c. 247 

The way in which Lemery, Hales and Brownrigg 
speak of Mayow, evidently shews that his theories 
were not understood, nor his merits appreciated. 

That Mayow was unknown to Black and Caven- 
dish until of late years, is highly probable at least, 
if not absolutely certain. Neither these philoso- 
phers, nor Dr. Priestley, could have passed over 
Msyow's book, without being struck with his ideas, 
and publicly referring to them in their chemical 


That Dr. Priestley was unacquainted with May- 
ow is certain, from the limited extent of his read! ig 
at the early period of his experiments (from 1770 
to 1770 or 1777,) in books of chemistry and theore- 
tic physiology : from Mayow, not being quoted by 
any of the writers whose works Dr. Priestley would 
be likely to consult except Hales and Brownrigg, 
and not by them in a manner to induce any farther 
curiosity : from their being unnoticed by Black, 
Cavendish, Sir. John Pringle, and Lavoisier, in par- 
ticular i from the custom that Dr. Priestley had of 
acknowledging the sources of his ideas in all cases 
w here they originated from the discoveries of others, 
as in preferences to Hales, Brownrigg, Cavendish, 

Q4 Sec; 

Atpendix, No. 1. 

&c ; and from his making no mention of Mayovv in 
his express account of the labours of his predeces- 
sors en the subject of animal respiration. That 
both he and Sir John Pringle before the Royal So, 
cktv in i772 and 177G should expressly treat the 
history of discoveries in which Mayow bore so dis- 
tinguished a part, and omit noticing him altogether, 
had they known of his works, is incredible. It is 
l\ ideat that he was then an obscure writer, and not 
in repute, or he would have occurred to them ; or 
some of their philosophical friends would have sug- 
gested the propriety of referring to his publications. 
Neither is it likely that Schcele would have been 
acquainted with Mayow's writings, though it is 
singular that he escaped the notice of Lavoisier who 
I believe was employed under government in the 
collection of essays on the theory and manufacture of 
saltpetre and in the superintendance of the saltpetre 
works, especially as Mayow was mentioned though 
disrespectfully by Lemery x in his paper on nitre be- 
fore referred to. But there certainly is no evidence 
that Lavoisier obtained his ideas of oxvsren and its 
combination with the blood from Mayow, or his 
theory of metallic calcination from Jean Rey, though 


Chemistry, &c. 249 

his obligations to Dr. Priestley have not been always 
acknowledged with the candour and liberality that 
men of science would expect from Lavoisier. 

Mayow had more than ordinary discernment in 
comparing known facts, and drawing conclusions 
from them, but he does not appear to have had the 
talent of imagining decisive experiments, of varying 
them, of observing and noting all the natural pheno- 
mena attendant upon them, or sufficient industry in 
pursuing them. It is one thing to make a plausible 
conjecture, and another to verify it. Those alone are 
entitled to the honour of discoveries who not mere- 
ly start the theory, but take the pains of pursuing it by 
experiments and resting it on the basis of well con, 
ceived and accurately ascertained facts, sufficiently 
numerous and varied to obviate the most prominent 
objections, Mayow has reasoned with great acute- 
ness and conjectured with singular felicity, but he 
added little to the mass of philosophical knowledge 
in his day. He composed and decomposed nitre 
and ascertained the existence of vital air in this sub- 
stance as well as in the atmosphere, but he did not 
collect, exhibit, and examine it. He knew how to 
make artificial air from nitrous acid and iron, but all 


250 Appendix, No. 1. 

the extraordinary properties of this gas, remained 
unobserved by him as well as by others until collect- 
ed and imprisoned by Dr. Priestley, and exposed to 
the question under his scrutinizing eye. Indeed a* 
an experimentalist Dr. Priestley stands unrivalled. 
The multiplicity of his experiments, their ingenuity t 
their bearings upon the point m question, their ge- 
neral importance, and their fidelity, were never 
equalled upon the whole, before or since. Nor is it 
any detraction from their merit with those who arc 
accustomed to experiment, that they hold out no 
pretensions to that suspicious accuracy, which has 
too often depended more upon arithmetical calcula- 
tions than upon actual weight and measure. The 
many kinds of aeriform fluids discovered by Dr. 
Priestley, the many methods of procuring them, the 
skilfull investigation of their properties, the founda- 
tion he laid for the labours of others, the simplicity, 
the novelty, the neatness, and the cheapness of his 
apparatus, and his unequalled industry, have de- 
servedly placed him at the head of pneumatic Che- 
mistry. Nor should it be forgotten that while he 
thus outstripped his predecessors and contemporaries 
in the field of experiment, it formed not as with 


Chemistry, Sec. 251 

them the business of his life, but (among other bran- 
ches of literature and philosophy successfully culti- 
vated) the occupation of his leisure hours, the relaxa • 
tion from what he deemed more important, more la- 
borious, and more obligatory pursuits. 

Before his time (excluding Mayow) Boyle had 
discovered that air might be generated, fatal to ani- 
mal life. It was known that common air would on- 
ly serve a certain time for the purposes of combusti- 
on and respiration. The mephitic exhalations from 
natural Grottoes had been remarked. Inflammable 
air both natural and artificial had been exhibited be- 
fore the royal society. Hales had ascertained the 
presence of air in a great number of substances where 
It was not commonly suspected though he had not 
the skill to examine the properties of the air produced. 
Black had ascertained the presence of fixed air in 
limestone, and Brownrigg, Lane, and Venel had il- 
lustrated the theory of mineral waters. But it was 
the paper of Cavendish in 1766 on fixed and inflam- 
mable air produced from various substances by 
means of acids, fermentation and putrefaction, that 
first introduced a stile of experimenting in pneumatic 
chemistry, more neat, more precise, and scientific 

than had hitherto been known. 


252 Appendix, No. 1. 

The attention of Dr. Priestley however to these 
subjects was not originally excited by the works of 
his predecessors, but by the accident of his proximi- 
ty to a brew-house at Leeds, where of course fixed 
air (a subject that had attracted much attention about 
that time) would be produced in a large way. It 
was thus that one experiment led to another, until 
the fruits of his amusements were the discoveries on 
which his philosophical reputation is principally 
founded. It is no more than justice to his character 
to mention in this place, that of all men living he was 
the freest from literary deception and the vanity of 
authorship. He never claims the merit of profound 
investigation or great foresight, for discoveries that 
might easily have been so stated as if they had been 
the pure result of those qualifications, but which 
were in reality the offspring of accident and circum- 
stance. He excites others to patient labour in the 
field of experiment, from observing that success does 
not depend so much on great abilities or extensive 
knowledge, as on patient attention, and perseverance; 
and that much of his own reputation was owing to 
the discovery of facts that arose in the course of his 
pursuits, the result of no previous theory, unlooked 


CHEMISfRY, hC, £53 

for and unexpected. In v. 3 p. 282 of his experi- 
ments on air he says " Few persons I believe have 
" met with so much Unexpected good success as 
" myself in the course of my philosophical pursuits. 
" My narrative will shew that the first hints at least 
" of almost every thing that I have discovered of 
"much importance have occurred to me in this 
" manner. In looking for one thing I have general- 
" found another, and sometimes a thing of much 
" more value than that which I was in quest of. 
'* But none of these unexpected discoveries appear 
" to me to have been so extraordinary as that I am 
" about to relate (viz. the spontaneous emission of 
" dephlogisticated air from water containing a green 
" vegetating matter) and it may serve to admonish 
" all persons who are engaged in similar pursuits, 
" not to overlook any circumstance relating to an 
" experiment, but to keep their eyes open to every 
V new appearance and to give due attention to it 
" however inconsiderable it may seem."* To this 
candour of disposition, and the readiness with 


* See also the 1st, vol. of his early edition of experiments on air 
P, 29. 

254 Appendix, No. 1. 

which he acknowledged his mistakes and his oversights, 
even those who opposed his opinions bear honoura- 
ble testimony. " The celebrated Priestley himself 
" (says M. Berthollet in his reply to Kir wan on 
" Phlogiston p. 124 of the Eng. translation) often 
44 sets us the example, by rectifying the results of 
" some of his numerous experiments." 

Numerous indeed those experiments were as 
well as important : far too numerous to be parti- 
cularised here ; though it may not be improper to 
call to the recollection of the reader some of the 
more interesting facts which we owe to Dr. Priest- 
ley, and the times of their discovery and commu- 

The first of his publications on pneumatic che- 
mistry was in 1772, announcing the method of im- 
pregnating water with fixed air, and on the prepara- 
tion and medicinal uses of artificial mineral waters \ 
a discovery that domesticated much of the know- 
ledge that had heretofore been disclosed only in the 
works of learned societies^ and that beautifully 
exemplified how much of the health and the pleasure 
of common life, might depend on the ingenious re- 
searches of men of science. Though this was the 


Chemistry, 8cc. 255 

first publication of Dr. Priestley on the chemistry of 
the airs, he had certainly commenced his experi- 
ments in this branch of Science, soon after his arrival 
at Leeds, and as early at least, as 1768. In the 
year 1771 he had already procured gocd air from 
saltpetre ; he had ascertained the use of agitation, 
and of vegitation as the means employed by nature 
in purifying the atmosphere destined to the support 
of animal life, and that air vitiated by animal respi- 
ration was a pabulum to vegetable life ; he had 
procured factitious air in a much greater variety of 
ways than had been known before, and he had been 
in the habit of substituting quicksilver in lieu of water, 
for the purpose of many of his experiments. In his 
paper before the Royal Society, in the spring of 1772, 
which deservedly obtained him the honour of the 
Copley Medal, he gives an account of these disco- 
veries. In the same paper he announces the disco- 
very of that singular fluid nitrous air,* and its beau- 

* Honestly referring to Dr. Hales and Mr. Cavendish for any idea 
that might have remotely led to this discovery (See Obs. on air 1st 
ed. y. 1 p. 1C8) the discovery however was completely his own. 

Dr. Priestley seems -always to have thought nitrous air as conveni- 

256 Appendix, No. 1. 

tiful application as a test of the purity or fitness for 
respiration of airs generally. In the same paper he 
shews the use of a burning lens in pneumatic ex- 
periments j he relates the discovery and properties 
of marine acid air ; he adds much to the little of 
what had been heretofore known of the airs gene- 
rated by putrefactive processes, and by vegetable 
fermentations, and he determines many facts relat- 
ing to the diminution and deterioration of air, by the 
combustion of Charcoal, and the calcination of 
of metals. 

Soon after this, in confirmation of Sir John Prin- 
gle's theory of intermittents and low fevers being 
generally owing to moist miasma when people are 
exposed to its influence, he ascertained by means of 


ent a substance for eudiometrical experiments as any of the later 
substitutes, viz. the liquid sulphurets and thecombustion of phosphorus- 
The foundation of Mr. Davy's substitute, muriat or sulphat of iron sa- 
turated with nitrous air, was as Mr. Davy acknowledges first disco- 
vered by Dr. Priesley himself. See Nich. Journ. for Jan. 1802 p. 41. 

The different states of the solutions of iron in vitriolic acid have been 
ingeniously applied to the analysis of mixed gasscs by Humboldt mm! 


Chemistry, &c. 257 

his nitrous test that the air of marshes was inferior in 
purity to the common air of the atmosphere.* 

He had obtained very good air from saltpetre in 
1771, but his full discovery of dcphlogisticated, 
air, seems not to have been made until June or July, 
1774,-j* when he procured it from precipitate per. se, 
and from red lead. This was publicly mentioned 
by him at the table of Mr. and Madame Lavoisier, 
at Paris, in October 1774, to whom the phenomena 
were until then unknown. The experiments on the 
production of dephlogisticated air, he made before 
the scientific chemists at Paris about the same time, 
at Mr. Trudaine's. This hitherto secret source of 
animal life and animal heat, of which Mayow had 
but a faint and conjectural glimpse, was certainly 
first exhibited by Dr. Priestley, and about the same 
time, (unknown to each other) by Mr. Scheele of 
Sweden. For the honour of science, it were much 
to be wished that the pretensions of Mr. Lavoisier 
were equally well founded. He has done sufficient 


* Phil, trans, v. 54 p. 92. 

f See Doctrine of Phlog\ established p. 119. 


258 Appendix, No. 1. 

and been praised sufficiently for what he has done, to 
satisfy a mind the most avaricious of fame ; he is de- 
servedly placed in the first rank among the philoso- 
phers of his day, and he ought not to have thrown a 
shade over his well earned reputation, by claiming 
for himself the honour of those discoveries which he 
had learned from another. 

From this brief account of the first stage of Dr. 
Priestley's chemical labours, it appears that during 
the short period of two years, he announced to the 
■world more facts of real importance, and extensive 
application, and more enlarged and extensive views 
of the ceconomy of nature, than all his predecessors 
in pneumatic Chemistry had made known before. 

In 1776 his observations on respiration were read 
before the Royal Society ; in which he clearly dis- 
covered that the common air inspired, was diminish* 
ed in quantity, and deteriorated in quality, by the 
action of the blood on it through the blood vessels of 
the lungs ; and that the florid red colour of arterial 
blood, was communicated by the contact of air 
through the containing vessels. His experiments 
on the change of colour in blood confined in a blad- 
der, took away all doubt of the probability of this 


Chemistry, &c. 259 

mode of action. I cannot help thinking that the cir- 
cumstance of Dr. Priestley's mind being so much 
occupied with the prevailing theory of Phlogiston, 
was the reason why he did not observe that the di- 
minution of the air, and the florid colour of the arte- 
rial blood was owing to the absorption of the pure 
part of the atmosphere, rather than to any thing 
emitted from the blood itself. This part of the the- 
ory of respiration Mr. Lavoisier has certainly esta- 
blished ; though it is by no means ascertained as yet 
whether the vital part of the atmosphere inspired, is 
wholly and alone absorbed, or whether in reality 
something is not contributed in the lungs to the for- 
mation of the fixed air found after expiration.* 
In 1778 Dr. Priestley pursued his experiments on 
the property of vegetables growing in the light to 
correct impure air, and the use of vegetation in this 


* That azote is absorbed during respiration as Dr. Priestley sup- 
posed contrary to Mr. Lavoisier's opinion, is made extremely proba- 
ble by the experiments of Mr. Davy, whose accuracy is well known. 
Researches, p. 434. The formation of water in this process is cer- 
tainly no more than conjecture as yet. Dr. Bostock has lately pub- 
lished a very useful and laborious history of discoveries relating to 
respiration, both anatomical and pneumatical. 


260 Appendix, No. 1. 

part of the oeconomy of nature. A discovery which 
was announced to several men of science in England 
previous to the publication of the same ideas by 
Dr. Ingenhouz.* Indeed from its having been 
communicated to M. Magellan whose pleasure and 
whose occupation it was, to give information of new 
facts to his philosophical correspondents, and of this 
in particular to Dr. Ingenhou z then engaged in si- 
milar researches, there is hardly a doubt but the 
latter knew of the experiments then pending on the 
subject by Dr. Priestley. 

It is painful to notice these aberrations from propri- 
ety in the conduct of men highly respectable in the 
philosophical world, arising from an over anxious 
avarice of literary fame, and an improper jealousy of 
the reputation of another. Not that it derogates 
from the character of a philosopher to wish for the 


* Doctrine of Phlogiston established, p. 107, et. seq. The theory 
of the amelioration of impure air by the absorption and excretion of 
vegetable? growing in the light, has been doubted by Dr. Darwin in 
Lis Phytologia, and opposed by Count R umford in a paper pubHshe(J 
in the transactions of the Royal Society, for 1787 , also by Dr. Wood- 
house of Philadelphia, Nicholson's Journal, for July 1802, and by Mr. 
Robert Harrup, Nicholson's Journal, for July 1803. 

Chemistry, &c. 261 

applause of those who know how to appreciate his 
merit, or who are benefited by his exertions ; such 
an anxiety is laudable when it does not lead to en- 
croachments on the literary rights of others ; nor is 
it at all desireable under the present circumstances of 
human nature, to expect from men of science an at- 
tention to their pursuits arising from motives of pure 
benevolence alone, and excluding all views, hopes, and 
expectations of the gratifying tribute of public ap- 
probation. I believe no man ever laboured with a 
more single eye to public utility than Dr. Priestley. 
But consideration in society, and the respectability 
attendant upon great talents, and great industry, sue* 
cessfally employed for the benefit of mankind, is 
a motive to useful exertion so universal, so honest, 
so laudable, and withal so powerful, that it is the 
common interest, as well as the duty of society, to 
bestow it liberally where it has been earned faith- 
fully, and to concede it to those only, who have 
really deserved this honourable reward. 

From this period Dr. Priestley seems to have at- 
tended to his pneumatic experiments as an occupa- 
tion ; devoting to them a regular portion of his time. 
To this attention, among a prodigious variety of 

R 3 facts 

262 Appendix, No. I. 

facts tending to shew the various substances from 
which the gasses may be procured ; the methods 
of producing them ; their influence on each other, 
and their probable composition, we owe the dis- 
covery of vitriolic acid air, of fluor acid air, of vege- 
table acid air, of alkaline air, and of dephlogisticated 
nitrous air, or gazeous oxide of azote as it has been 
called, the subject of so many curious experiments 
by Mr. Davy. To these we may add the produc- 
tion of the various kinds of inflammable air by nu- 
merous processes that had escaped the observation 
of Mr. Cavendish ; in particular the formation of it 
by the electric spark taken in oils, in spirits of wine 
and in alkaline air ; the method of procuring it by 
passing steam through hot iron filings, and the phe- 
nomena of that hitherto undetermined substance 
the finery cinder, and its alliance to steel. To 
Dr. Priestley we owe the very fine experiment of 
reviving metallic calces in inflammable air and its 
absorption in toto, apparently at least, undecompos- 
ed. He first ascertained the necessity of water to 
the formation of the gasses, and the endless produc- 
tion of air from water itself. 

Dr. Priestley's experiments on this subject, to 

wit : 

Chemistry, &c. 263 

wit : the generation of air from water, opened a new- 
field for reflection, and deserves more minute notice. 
No theory has yet been proposed adequate to the ex- 
planation of the facts. He had before remarked that 
water was necessary to the generation of every spe- 
cies of air, but the unceasing product of air from 
water had never been before observed. 

In his first set of experiments he procured air, by 
converting the whole of a quantity of water into 
steam : then, to obviate the objection to the water 
having imbibed air from the atmosphere, he put the 
water on mercury in long glass tubes immersed in 
mercury : in a third process he used no heat, but 
merely took off the pressure of the atmosphere. 
In all these cases a bubble of air was extricated 
from the water, which being separated by inclin- 
ing the tube, another bubble was again produced on 
each repetition of the experiment. That this could 
not be air imbibed from the atmosphere appeared 
from this, that though the first portions were general- 
ly purer than atmospheric air, the next became less 
pure, and at length wholly phlogisticated. 

It did not appear that the addition of acids, erv 

abled the water to yield more air,, nor did he suc- 

R 4 eeed 

264 Appendix, No. 1. 

ceed in attempting to convert the whole of a given 
quantity of water into air, although exposing the wa- 
ter confined over mercury to heat, and separating the 
air produced, it still continued to produce more air 
for twenty or thirty repetitions of the experiments. 
When a certain proportion of air was thus produced 
at any one time, no continuance of the experiment 
would encrease the quantity until it was separated. 
Hence he concludes that the longest continuance of 
of water in the state of vapour would not convert it 
into air. The water used was pure distilled water 
previously boiled to separate any adventitious air 
that might have been imbibed from the atmosphere. 
The precautions he used, and the replies to such ob- 
jections as he foresaw the experiment would be liable 
to, are detailed in the papers he published on the sub- 
ject, to wit, a separate pamphlet published in Eng- 
land in 1793. and a communication in the Am. Ph. 
trans, v. IV. p. 11—20. 

In the last mentioned paper, he proceeds also to 
give an account of some experiments on the proper- 
ty of water to imbibe different kinds of air, and the 
conversion of sp. of wine, into inflammable air. 

This paper inserted in the American transactions, 


Chemistry, &e. 265 

was read before that society in Feb. 1796. In Ap. 
1800 another paper was read before the same society 
on the production of air by the freezing of water Am. 
Ph. trans, v. V. p. 36. In this paper he recapitulates 
the general result of his former experiments on the 
generation of air from water, namely "that after all 
" air had been extracted from any quantity of water 
'* by heat or by taking off the pressure of the atmos- 
" phere, whenever any portion of it was converted 
*' into vapour, a bubble of permanent air was formed, 
" and this was always phlogisticated. The process 
" with the Torricellian vacuum (he says) I continued 
" for some years and found the production of air 
" equable to the last. The necessary inference from 
" this experiment is, that water is convertible into 
" phlogisticated air, or that it contains more of this 
(t air intimately combined with it than can be ex- 
" tricated from these processes in any reasonable 
" time." 

He proceeds to state his imperfect attempts to pro- 
cure air from water by freezing, until he procured 
cylindrical iron vessels seven or eight inches high and 
near three inches wide at the bottom, the upper ori- 
fice closed with a cork and cement, in the centre of 


5266 Appendix, No. 1. 

which was a glass tube about one fifteenth of an inch 
in diameter. In this apparatus the water in the iron 
vessel was frozen by means of snow and salt, the 
vessel being immersed in mercury, and the water con- 
tained over the mercury. The quantity of water 
was about three ounces. The experiment was re- 
peated nine times without changing the water, and 
the last portion of air procured in this manner was 
as great as any of the preceding ; so that there re- 
mained no reasonable doubt but that air might be 
produced from the same water in this manner ad 
libitum. Having obtained near two inches of air 
in the glass tube, Dr. Priestley put an end to the 
experiment, and examining the air found it wholly 
phlogisticated, not being affected by nitrous air, and 
having nothing inflammable in it. 

The inference drawn by the Doctor from those ex- 
periments is, that water when reduced by any mea?is 
into the state of vapour, is in part converted into 
phlogisticated air ; and this is one of the methods 
provided by nature for keeping up the equilibrium 
of the atmosphere, as the influence of light on grow- 
ing vegetables is the means of recruiting the other 
part ; both of them being subject to absorption and 


Chemistry, Sec. 267 

diminution in several natural processes. And he 
thinks that they strengthen also the opinion, that wa- 
ter is the basis of every kind of air, instead of being 
itself a compound of hydrogen and oxygen accord- 
ing to the new theory. At all events the experiments 
themselves must be considered as extremely curious, 
as well as new. 

The water and the salt thus made use of gave rise 
to another experiment of the most important nature 
to the present theory of chemistry, if it should on fu- 
ture repetition be ultimately verified. This experi- 
ment related by Dr. Priestley in a letter to Dr. Wis- 
ton is in substance as follows. Having repeatedly 
used as above mentioned a freezing mixture of com- 
mon salt and snow, the experiment being finished, 
he evaporated the snow water in an iron vessel and 
recovered the salt. The salt thus recovered contain- 
ed some calx of iron. He put it by in a bottle and 
labelled it, according to his usual practice. In Oc- 
tober 1803, he wanted to procure some marine acid, 
and took the salt thus procured by evaporating the 
snow water, for the purpose. On commencing the 
distillation, he was surprized to find the receiver 
full of the characteristic red fumes of the nitrous 


268 Appendix No. 1. 

acid. The vitriolic acid used for the purpose was 
diluted with about au equal quantity of water. On 
finishing the process, he took some of the acid in 
the receiver, and dissolved copper in it, and thus 
procured good nitrous air. He was himself perfect- 
ly persuaded that no nitre had been used in the 
freezing mixture, nor had any by accident or de- 
sign been mixed with the salt. He was not unac- 
quainted with the common mode of clearing black 
oil of vitriol by the addition of nitre. So that no 
means of accounting for this curious fact remained, 
but the snow or the iron : he seemed to think that 
should this experiment be fully verified hereafter, it 
would confirm the vulgar hypothesis of snow con- 
taining nitre, and account for the fertilizing quality- 
usually attributed to snow. He had no opportunity 
in that winter of repeating the experiment as he died 
in'about three months after, and his previous illness 
had compelled him to forsake his laboratory. 

Of the almost discarded theory of Phlogiston Dr. 
Priestley to his death remained the strenuous advo- 
cate, and almost the sole supporter; ipse Agmen. 
Beautiful and elegant as the simplicity of the new 
doctrine appears, many facts yet remain to be ex- 

Chemistry, &c. 269 

plained, to which the old system will apply, and the 
French theory is inadequate. These are collected 
with an ingenuity of arrangement, and a force of 
reasoning in the last pamphlet published by the Doc- 
tor on the subject,* which no man as yet unpreju- 
diced can peruse, without hesitating on the truth 
of the fashionable theoiy of the day. 

Certainly, it has not yet been sufficiently ex- 
plained on the new theory, what becomes of the Ox- 
ygen from the decomposed water in the solution of 
metals in acids ; nor why inflammable air is prodnc- 
td when one metal in solution is precipitated by ano- 
ther ; nor why dephlogisticated air is hardly to be pro- 
cured from finery cinder, if at all; nor why this substance 
so abounding in oxygen according to the new theory, 
will not oxygenate the muriatic acid ; nor why it 
should answer all the purposes of water in the pro- 
duction of inflammable air from charcoal ; nor why 
water in abundance should be produced when finery 
cinder is heated in inflammable air, and none when 
red precipitate is exposed to the same process ; nor 
what becomes of the oxygen of the decomposed wa- 

• The doctrine of phlogiston established 1803. 

270 Aptendix, No. 1. 

ter when steam is sent over red hot Zinc, and inflam- 
mable air is produced without any addition in weight 
to the Zinc employed ; nor why there should be a 
copious production of inflammable air when hot 
filings of Zinc are added to hot mercury in a hot 
retort and exposed to a common furnace heat, which 
I believe is an unreported experiment of Mr. Kir- 
wan's ; nor why sulphur and phosphorus are formed 
by heating their acids in inflammable air without our 
being able to detect the oxygen which on the new 
theory ought to be separated , nor why water should 
be produced by the combustion of inflammable air 
with ,47 of oxygen, and nitrous acid when ,51 of 
oxygen is employed, for this experiment can now no 
more be doubted than explained ; nor why on the 
new doctrine the addition of phlogisticated air, should 
make no alteration in the quantity of acid thus ob- 
tained ; nor why red hot charcoal slowly supplied 
with steam, should furnish inflammable air only and 
not fixed or carbonic acid air ; nor why nothing but 
pure fixed air should be produced by heating the car- 
bonated Barytes in the same way ; nor why fixed 
air should be formed under circumstances when it 
cannot be pretended that Carbon is present, as when 


Chemistry, &e. 271 

gold, silver, platina, copper, lead, tin and bismuth 
are heated by a lens in common air over lime water ; 
or why the grey and yellow calces of lead should fur- 
nish carbonic acid and azote, and no oxygen ; nor 
why the residuum of red lead when all its oxygen is 
driven off by heat should be either massieot or glass 
of lead according to the degree of heat, and not lead 
in its metalline state ; nor why plumbago with steam 
should yield inflammable and not fixed air ; nor why 
minium and precipitate per se heated in inflammable 
air should produce fixed air ; nor why on the evapo- 
ration of a diamond in oxygen, the fixed air produced 
should far exceed the weight of the diamond employ- 
ed, if some of the oxygen had not entered into the 
composition of the carbonic acid so formed ; nor 
why there should be a constant residuum of phlogis- 
ticated air (or azote) after the firing of dephlogisti- 
cated and inflammable airs, if it be not formed in the 
process ; nor why phlogisticated air if a simple sub- 
stance, should be so evidently formed in the various 
processes enumerated by Dr. Priestley in the 13th. 
section of the pamphlet of which I have made the 
foregoing abstract ? whether the doctrine of phlogis- 
ton is still to be used as the key to the gate of che- 

272 Appendix, No. 1. 

mical theory, or whether it be properly thrown aside 
for the elegant substitute of the French chemists, can 
hardly be ascertained, until the preceding difficul- 
ties are cleared up on the new doctrine, for on the 
old theory they are sufficiently explicable. The 
summary of arguments in favour of Phlogiston, 
published by Dr. Priestley, in 1803, are evidently 
too important, and too difficult of reply, to be slight- 
ed by those who adopt the opposite opinions. Non 
nostri est tantas compojiere lites. Should the old theory 
.ultimately fall, it may be fairly said of its respectable 
supporter, si Pergama dextra defendi potuit y etiam 
hac defensa fuisset. 

This was almost the last of Dr. Priestley's che- 
mical publications,* through all which, his charac- 
teristic talent as an author has been eminently preserv- 
ed, that of not only adding greatly to the existing 
stock of knowledge, but exciting others to exertion 
and reflection in the same line of pursuit. Nor can 

I help 

* To the end of this Appendix will be subjoined a list of the scat* 
tered papers on Philosophical subjects which Dr. Pnestle;, published 
in periodical collections, besides those which arc inserted in the Phi- 
losophical transactions. 

Chemistry, &c. 273 

I help thinking that much of the labours of the 
French philosophers in this department of science 
would never have been undertaken, if they had not 
been called forth by the previous discoveries, not of 
Lemery, Margraaf, Bayen, Macquer, and Beaume, 
but of Hales, Black, and Macbride ; of Cavendish 
and Priestley and Scheele.* Would to God there 
were no other objeet of contest between the rival 
nations of Great Britain and France, but which 
should add most to the sum of human knowledge, 
and contribute most to the means of human happi- 


It is impossible to conclude the preceding account 
better than by the following extract of a letter to Mr, 
Lindsey from a manf well able to appreciate the 
labours of Dr. Priestley; and the late testimony in 
fevour of his discernment by Dr. Bostock. " To 
" enumerate Dr. Priestley's discoveries, would in 

" fact 

* I do not mean to deny the tribute of praise to Marriotte and Ve- 
nel, any more than to Brownrigg and Lane, and it is certain that 
J-avoisier was engaged in pneumatic exparimente, previous \9l77j* 

t Richard Kirwan, Esqr. 

274 Appendix, No. 1. 

" fact be to enter into a detail of most of those that 
*' have been made within the last 15 years. How 
" many invisible fluids whose existence evaded the 
" sagacity of foregoing ages has he made known to 
" us? The very air we breathe, he has taught us to 
11 analyze, to examine, to improve : a substance so 
" little known, that even the precise effect of respira- 
" tion was an enigma until he explained it. He first 
•' made known to us the proper food of vegetables, 
** and in what the difference between these and ani- 
" mal substances consisted. To him Pharmacy is 
" indebted for the method of making artificial mi- 
n neral waters, as well as for a shorter method of 
" preparing other medicines ; metallurgy for more 
" powerful and cheap solvents ; and chemistry for 
" such a variety of discoveries as it would be tedious 
" to recite : discoveries which have new modelled 
" that science, and drawn to it and to this country, 
" the attention of all Europe. It is certain that 
" since the year 1773, the eye and regards of all the 
" learned bodies in Europe have been directed to 
** this country by his means. In every philosophi- 
" cal treatise, his name is to be found, and in almost 
" every page. They all own that most of their dis- 

" coveries 

Chemistry, &c. 275 

** coveries are due either to the repetition of his dis- 
"*' coveries, or to the hints scattered through his 
** works.* 

" This is not the only instance" (says Dr. Bos- 
tock,f speaking of Mr. Jurin's opinion that azote 
was generated, instead of being absorbed, in the pro- 
cess of respiration as Dr. Priestley, and after him 
Mr. Davy had supposed,) " in which, after the con - 
" elusions of Dr. Priestley have been controverted 
*' by his contemporaries, a more accurate investiga- 
V tion of the question, has ultimately decided in his 
*' favour. The complicated apparatus, and impo- 
** sing air of minuteness which characterize the ope- 
*' rations of the French chemists, irresistibly engage 
il the assent of the reader, and scarcely permit him 
{i to examine the stability of the foundation upon 
" which the structure is erected. The simplicity 
*' of the processes employed by Dr. Priestley, the 
"" apparent ease with which his experiments were 
" performed, and the unaffected conversational stile 


* Vindicioe Priestli&nae, p. 68. 
t Essay on respiration, p. 208. 


276 Appendix, No. 1. 

« in which they are related have, on the contrary been 
" mistaken for the effects of haste and inaccuracy. 
" Something must also be ascribed to the theoreti- 
«' eal language which pervades, and obscures the 
" chemical writings of this Philosopher, in consc- 
" quence of his unfortunate attachment to the doc- 
" trine of Phlogiston." 

When the operose experiment of the French che- 
mists on the formation of water, shall have been suf- 
ficiently repeated, and verified by other experiments 
to the same point, less complex, less tedious, less ex- 
pensive, and easy to be repeated ; when the water 
thus supposed to be formed is sufficiently distin- 
guished from the water absolutely necessary to the 
generation of all airs, and attendant upon them* both 
in a state of mixturt^and. combination ; and when 
the difficulties enumerated a page or two back, as at- 
tendant on the modem theory shall be explained on 


* Mr. Kirv/an found that common inflammable air from iron, and 
vitriolic-acid, contained about 2-3 of its weight of water mixed with 
it ; which might be separated from the air by means of concentrated 
vitriolic-acid in a watch glass over' mercury, without diminishing the 
quantity or altering the characteristic properties of the air thus 

Chemistry, &c. 277 

the new system, as well as on that of Stahl, then, 
and not until then, will it be time to lament Dr. 
Priestley's unfortunate attachment to the doctrine of 

Of Dr. Priestley's other Scientific Works. 

THE other philosophical labours of Dr. Priestley 
consist of his history of electricity, his history of the 
discoveries relating to light and colour, and his popu- 
lar introductions to perspective, electricity and natu- 
ral philosophy. 

It appears that after the publication of his history 
of electricity, he intended to have pursued the plan, 
by composing similar histories of every branch of 
science : a magnificent idea, and which none but a 
man conscious of uncommon powers could have 
contemplated. Few men indeed were so capable of 
such an undertaking as Dr. Priestley ; for indepen- 
dant of his habits of patient and regular industry in 
his literary pursuits, and the wide field of his atten- 
tion to scientific objects, he had a facility of perusing, 
abstracting, and arranging the works of others, not 
commonly attendant even upon equal abilities in 

S 3 other 

*>78 Appendix No. 1. 

other respects. This great undertaking of Dr* 
Priestley to embrace the various departments of phi- 
losophy, appears a labour sufficient for one life ; and 
had due encouragement been afforded, this pro- 
jected series of histories would in all probability- 
have been compleated, usefully to the world, and re- 
putably to himself. But he proposed this undertak- 
ing laborious as it was, without designing that it 
should occupy the whole or the principal portion of 
his time, but his leisure hours only ; for at no peri- 
od did he postpone his professional duties, or his 
theological studies, to any other object whatever. 
The life of Dr. Priesdey is almost a perpetual il- 
lustration of a seeming paradox, respecting mental 
energy, that men of talents, uncommonly laborious > 
and who appear to get through more business than 
one person could be supposed equal to, have usual- 
ly more leisure time at their disposal, than those 
who have little to do : so much docs the habit en- 
crease the power of exertion. Nor was any man 
less averse to the innocent pleasures of social enjoy- 
ment than Dr. Priestley, or better calculated as well 
as more inclined to contribute to the common stock 
of amusing, and instructive conversation. It can- 

Chemistry, &cr. 279 

not indeed be truly said of him, as Dr. Johnson* 
once related of himself, that he had never refused an 
invitation to dinner on account of business but once 
in his life, yet no man more readily found leisure for 
social intercourse. This arose from, his habit of di- 
viding his time into certain portions appropriated to 
his respective pursuits, and determining to perform 
a certain quantity of literary duty,, within the assign- 
ed period. 

The first edition of his history of Electricity, was 
in 1767: it werit through another edition in 1769, 


* On that clay, ( Dr. Johnson said) as it was an unusual deprivation, 
he found himself disinclined, and unable to attend steadily to the 
work that led him to refuse the invitation. He walked about his li- 
brary occasionally looking 1 over first one book and then another until 
about four o'clock when weary of staying 1 within he went to a tavern to 
dine. Dr. Johnson had for a long time a dislike to Dr. Priestley 
who bore two of the characters most in disrepute with Dr, Johnson, that 
of a whig and a dissenter. Dr. Priestley's pursuits also consisting so 
largely of heterodox theology, which Dr. Johnson abominated, and 
experimental philosophy which he heartily despised, they had hardly 
a common point of union. Toward the latter part of Johnson's life, 
they met ; and upon the friendly terms that ought to obtain between 
two men, who, each in their way, deserved so well of the republic of 


280 Appendix, No. 1. 

mid a third in 1775. It was published at a very 
happy time, when electricity was a favourite object 
of attention to many respectable men of science then 
living, and it contributed in a great degree to turn 
the public attention toward the study of these phe- 
nomena. Very much of what has been done since 
may be fairly attributed to the popularity given to 
this branch of experimental philosophy by Dr. 
Priestley. Nor did he confine himself to a mere 
narration of the labours of others ; the second vo- 
lume contains many new experiments of his own, 
and some of them form very curious and important 
additions to the stock of electrical knowledge.* 


* Dr. Priestley among his other experiments on electricity first 
ascertained the conducting power of charcoal and the calcination and 
vitrification even of the most perfect metals by the electric spark, 
lie seems first to have used large batteries, -which M. Van Marum 
and his associates have carried to such extent. 

The solutions of the metals, the gasses produced and the circum- 
stances which accelerate and prevent these effects in Galvanic pro- 
cesses with the pile of Volta, as detailed by Dr. Priestley in his paper 
on this subject in Nich. Jonrn. for March 1802 p. 198 form very im- 
portant additions to the mass of knowledge respecting the Galvanic 
fluid. Nor are- his discoveries in pneumatic electricity, of the conver- 
sion of oils, spirit of vine and the alkaline gass into inflammable air 
or hydrogen of less moment. 

Chemistry, &x. 231 

The discoveries of the last thirty years, particularly 
including those of Galvanic Electricity, are so nu- 
merous, and so dispersed in volumes difficult to be 
procured, that a continuation of this history b a de- 
sideratum in the scientific world ; at one time thero 
was an expectation of seeing it from the pen of 
Mr. Nicholson, whose general knowledge, and in- 
dustry, as well as his attention to this branch of 
philosophy in particular, render him peculiarly qua- 
lified for the task. But the proposals he communi- 
cated to Dr. Priestley, on the subject, were not pur- 
sued to effect.* 

These histories of detached branches of Science, 
would not only be highly useful, but they may be 
considered as in some measure necessary to the ac- 
curate pursuit, and advancement of science itselft 
They are not only useful for the purpose of shewing 
the discoveries that have been made, and the time of 
their publication, the ideas that appear to have sug- 
gested them, the persons to w r hom we are indebted 
for them, and their effect on the spirit of enquiry at 


* Dr. Bostock, who seems to have many requisites to qualify him 
as the historian of particular hranches of science, has published a good 
Attempt toward the history of Galvanism in Nicholson's Journal. . 

282 Appendix, No. I. 

the time, but they prevent a man of science from 
being led into mistakes, from doing what has been 
already done, from suggesting what has been alrea- 
dy published, and from ignorantly claiming to him- 
self the merit due to the labours of a predecessor. 
Books are now so multiplied, in languages so vari- 
ous, obtained with so much difficulty, and at an ex- 
pence so far exceeding the usual means of scientific 
men, that those who like Dr. Priestley fully and 
faithfully execute a work of this description are real 
benefactors to mankind.* 

The history of Electricity was composed by 
Dr. Priestley in one year. The three editions of the 
work in less than eight or nine years sufficiently shew 
that, in the opinion of men of science, it was weU 
composed : otherwise the celerity of its composition, 
w ould no doubt derogate from, instead of adding to, 
the well earned reputation of the author ; and rather 
tend to shew that he was too careless or too conceited 
to take the necessary pains and employ the necessary 


* The transactions of the various academies and philosophical so- 
cieties in Europe amount at least to 1000 volumes in quarto. Tlje 
royal society of England in 1665 led the -way to similar institutions.. 

Chemistry, &c. 283 

time to make it fit for public inspection. Every man 
owes to the public, that if he professes to instruct 
them, he should dedicate as much labour as the sub- 
ject demands, or at least as much time as it is in his 
power to devote to it. I fully accede to the ingeni- 
ous correction of the nonum prematur in Annum, 
suggested by the witty Dr. Byrom of Manchester ; 
but something of the Lima Labor, respect for the 
tribunal of the public demands of every man who ap- 
pears before them in the character of an author. Dr. 
Priestley has in more instances than one, been accus- 
ed of unnecessary if not of culpable rapidity in his 
literary compositions : but lie never professed to be 
a fine writer; he never sought after the beauties of 
stile ; and his common language was sufficiently neat 
and expressive, to communicate the facts and the ar- 
guments upon which it was employed. It is also to 
be remarked, that the facility of composition which 
he acquired from long practice, made that labour 
light to him, which would have been too much for a 
less skilful and a less experienced composer. In 
many instances indeed of his rapid publications, he 
had not to seek for arguments, but to express in his 
unornamented and unaffected manner, the ideas that 


234 ArPENDix, No. 1. 

forced themselves upon him relating to a subject pre- 
viously considered and upon which he had long made 
up his mind. 

The History of Discoveries respecting light and 
colours published in 1772 was a more difficult task, 
nor did it meet with equal encouragement. Sir 
Isaac Newton's important labours in this branch of 
science, could not be fully comprehended without a 
portion of mathematical knowledge not even then so 
common as formerly, among the philosophers of the 
day. Mathematical studies seem to have in them- 
selves very little to interest, compared with other lite- 
rary pursuits ; although by long attention and habit, 
that interest may be excited and kept up. It was 
about this time that the popular phenomena of che- 
mistry and electricity more decidedly took their stand 
in the field of science, and irresistably seized hold on 
the attention of the world : phenomena, highly amus- 
ing in themselves, strongly attractive from their no- 
velty, of evident and immediate application, and 
that promised an incalculable harvest of honourable 
Tind useful discovery, to such as would become their 
votaries. Little had been done in this department of 

philosophy, little previous knowledge was required 


Chemistry, &cJ 285 

to comprehend all that was known, and those who 
were unable to read a page of Sir Isaac Newton with 
profit, could easily mix an acid and an alkali, or 
turn the wheel of an electrical apparatus. 

By this time too, it had been discovered, that there 
were other powers in nature that must be called in to 
explain appearances, which the mechanical and cor- 
puscular philosophy had endeavoured to elucidate in 
vain. Such were magnetism, electricity and chemis- 
try. It began to be found out, that the science of 
calculation, was but an aukward handmaid to their 
sister branches of natural philosophy, while physiolo. 
gy, laughed outright at the clumsy addresses of heu 
mathematical admirers, from Borelli to Keill. 

The discoveries therefore relating to light and 
colours, at the time when Dr. Priestley proposed 
his history, being intimately associated with the stu- 
dy of the mathematics, and the profound investi- 
gations of Sir Isaac Newton, were out of the beat of 
the less laborious, but more fashionable philosophy cf 
the day ; and were not so generally interesting to 
the Sciolists and Amateurs. Hence the work in 
question, though treated in a very entertaining and 
popular manner, and by no means crouded with re- 

286 Appendix, No. I. 

ierence to Diagrams or abstruse discussions, was not 
popular even among that class of readers, who might 
reasonably be calculated on, as the purchasers of 
such a performance. The subscribers indeed were 
sufficiently numerous, and respectable, but by far 
the majority were defaulters in respect of payment. 
It did not pay the bookseller : and of course still 
less did it recompence Dr. Priestley in a pecuniary 
point of view, especially as he had gone to consider- 
able expence with a view to the completion of his 
extended plan. To him indeed, though pecuniary 
loss was a serious evil, pecuniary profit was a consi- 
deration of small importance : his motives to litera- 
ry labour seem uniformly to have arranged them 
selves as follows, utility, reputation, profit. 

The work in question is certainly too brief, con- 
sidering the importance of the subject : many parts 
pf it, the theory of Huygcns, Euler, and Franklin 
for instance, seem to have merited more discussion. 
That all the phenomena of light depend on the Sun, 
as the reservoir, whence all ths emanations of that 
fluid to the various parts of the system are supplied, 
the lighting of a candle is alone sufficient to refute. 
The facts discovered to us by modern Chemistry 



Chemistry, &c. 287 

will suggest a great many other doubts of the doc- 
trines respecting light, which were regarded as well 
established when Dr. Priestley's book was written. 
But it was a faithful account of the knowledge of the 
day, and an unprejudiced tribute to the reputation 
of those philosophers who had from time to time ex- 
tended the boundaries of science on the subjects 
treated of. 

Not a little has been added to the mass of facts 
then published, by the subsequent experiments of 
Dr. Priestley himself, and his fellow labourers in the 
Chemistry of the Gasses : and notwithstanding the 
experiments of Sir Isaac Newton and his predeces- 
sors, the theory of light and colours is not yet rest- 
ed upon facts sufficiently numerous, and decisive to 
satisfy the enquiries dictated by the present state of 

But with all these disadvantages, the work has ne- 
vertheless maintained its ground, for we have no 
where else so systematic, and compleat, though brief 
an account of what had been made known to the 
world on this important branch of scientific inquiry. 
It will always remain a valuable performance ; and 
to the author an honourable one, from the know- 

288 Appendix, No. 1* 

ledge and ability required in its compilation, from 
the fairness of the account it gives, and the enter- 
taining statement of facts and suggestions interspers- 
ed through the book. 

It is greatly indeed to be wished, that these histo- 
ries should be continued on the plan which Dr. 
Priestley has adopted. So that all the prominent 
facts should be collected in the order of their disco- 
very, and a full view be given of the ground already 
gone over. Abridgments, do not answer this pur- 
pose ; the theories that dictated the experiments are 
not detailed, their truth or their fallacy cannot b« 
judged of, and sufficient merit is not attributed to 
the labours of the discoverer, or the bearings of his 
facts on his theory, sufficiently explained. To at- 
tain gradually to the summit of the temple of sci- 
ence, we must not only build on the foundations of 
our predecessors, but know somewhat of their in- 
tentions at the time of laying them. 

The minor treatises of Dr. Priestley on electricity, 
perspective and natural philosophy, have this discri- 
mination of character, that they are more calculated 
to allure young people to the study of those subjects 
than almost any of the introductions which have 


Chemistry, &c. 289 

either preceded or succeeded. Philosophy is made, 
not an abstruse science, but a delightful amusement. 
Indeed it was the fort of Dr. Priestley to make 
knowledge intelligible and popular, and treat it in 
such a way, as to invite rather than deter, those who 
were inclined to enter upon these delightful pursuits. 
The plainness and simplicity of his syllabus, the 
amusing complexion of the Phenomena, by which 
he illustrates his doctrines, and the facility with 
which the one can be made, and the other compre- 
hended, affords a very useful example to those who 
may have the same object hereafter in view. This 
was doubtless, owing to his long experience as a teach- 
er : and his success in that capacity among his pu- 
pils, with the electrical machine, and the air pump, 
is full evidence of the practical utility of his plans 
of instruction. 


• • 


Appendix No. 1. 

Catalogue of Dr. Priestley's smaller pamphlets and 
uncollected papers on philosophical subjects. 

Nicholson's -* 
Journal. L 
ne-zv series. J 

V. 1 p. 181. 

Ibid 198. 

V. 2 p. 233. 

V. 3 p. 52. 

V. 4 p. G5. 
Amer. Trans. 
V. 4 p. 1. 

Reply to Mr. Cruikshank's. 
Experiments on the Pile of Volta. 
On the conversion of iron into steel. 
On air from finery cinder and char- 
Farther reply to Mr. Cruikshank's, 

V. 4 p. 11. 

Ibid p. 382. 
lb. Vol. V. 


p. 1. 


Experiments and observations re- 
lating to the analysis of atmospheri- 
cal air. 

Farther experiments relating to the 
generation of air from water. 
Appendix to the above articles. 
Experiments on the transmission 
of acids and other liquors in the 
form of vapours over several sub- 
stances in a hot earthen tube, 
p. 14. Experiments on the change of 
place in different kinds of air 
through several interposing sub- 

p. 21 



Chemistry, &c. 291 

21. Experiments relating to the ab- 
sorption of air by water. 

28. Miscellaneous experiments relat- 
ing to the doctrine of phlogiston. 

36. Experiments on the production of 
air by the freezing of water. 

42. Experiments on air exposed to 
heat in metallic tubes. 

New-Tork Med. Repos. Title and Date. 

Vol. 1 p. 221. Considerations on the doctrine of 
Phlog. and the Decomp. of water. 
(Pamphlet) 1796. 
Part 2d of do. (Pamphlet 1797.) 
(Pamphlet) to Dr. Mitchell. 
(Pamphlet) on Red Precipitate of 
Mercury as favourable to thedoctrine 
of Phlogiston, July 20, 1798. 
Experiments relating to the calces of 
metals communicated in a fifth let- 
ter to Dr. Mitchell. October 11, 
1798. (Pamphlet.) 
Of some experiments made with 
ivory black and also with diamonds. 
(Pamphlet) 11 October, 1798. 

T 2 Ibid. p. 383. 

Ibid p. 541. 
Vol. 2 p. 48. 
Ibid p. 163. 

Ibid p. 263. 

Ibid p. 269, 

292 Appendix, No. 1. 

Ibid p. 383. On the phlogistic theory, January 17, 
1799. (Pamphlet.) 

Ibid p. 388. On the same subject. February 1, 

Vol. 3 p. 116. A reply to his antiphlogistian oppo- 
nents, No. 1. 

Vol. 4 p. 17. Experiments on the production of 
air by the freezing of water. 

Ibid p. 135. Experiments on heating Manganese 
in inflammable air. 

Ibid p. 247. Some observations relating to the 
sense of hearing. 

Vol. 5 p. 32. Remarks on the work entitled " A 
brief history of epidemic and pesti- 
lential diseases," May 4, 1801. 

Ibid p. 125, Some thoughts concerning dreams. 

Ibid p. 264. Miscellaneous observations relating 
to the doctrine of air, July 30, 

Ibid p. 390. A reply to Mr. Cruikshank's obser- 
vations in defence of the new system 
of chemistry, 5 Vol. Nicholson's 
Journal p. 1, 8vC 
Vol. 6 p. 24. Remarks on Mr. Cruikshank's ex- 

Chemistry, &c 293 

pcriments upon finery- cinder and 

Ibid p. 158. Observations on the conversion of 
iron into steel. 

Ibid p. 271. Additional remarks on Mr. Cruik- 
shank's experiments on fineiy cin- 
der and charcoal, November 15 




Of Dr. Priestley's Metaphysical Writings. 

THE principal source of objection to Dr. Priest- 
ley in England, certainly arose from his being a 
dissenter ; from his opposition to the hierarchy, and 
to the preposterous alliance, between Church and 
State : an alliance, by which the contracting par- 
ties seem tacitly agreed to support the pretensions 
of each other, the one to keep the people in religious, 
and the other in civil bondage. His socinian doc- 
trines in theology, and the heterodoxy of his meta- 
physical opinions, though they added much to the 
popular outcry raised against him, were not less ob- 
noxious to the generality of Dissenters, than to the 
Clergy of the Church of England. Nor is it a slight 
proof of the integrity of his character, and his bold- 
ness in the pursuit of truth, that he did not hesitate 
to step forward the avowed advocate of opinions, 
which his intimate and most valuable friends, and the 
many \\ ho looked up to him as the ornament of the 
dissenting interest, regarded with sentiments of hor- 

Metaphysics. 295 

ror, as equally destructive of civil society and true 

The extreme difference observable between the 
apparent properties of animal and inanimate mat- 
ter, easily led to the opinion of something more as 
necessary to diought, and the phenomena of mind, 
than mere juxta position of the elements, whereof 
our bodies are composed. The very antient opi- 
nion also of a state of existence after death, preva- 
lent in the most uncivilized as well as enlightened 
stages of society, confirmed this opinion of a sepa- 
rate and immortal part of the human system : for it 
was sufficiently evident, that no satisfactory hopes of 
a futurity after death, could be founded on the pe- 
rishable basis of the human body. It is only of late 
days, and from the extention of anatomical and phy- 
siological knowledge, that the theory, and the facts 
of animal organization have been at all understood ; 
and without [the conjunction of physiology with 
metaphysics, the latter would have remained to eter- 
nity, as it has continued for ages, a mere collection 
of sophisms, and a science of grammatical quibbling. 
The doctrine of a future state, and that of an immar 
terial and immortal soul, became therefore mutual 
T 4 supports 

296 Appendix, No. 2. 

supports to each other; and herein the civil power 
willingly joined in aid of the dogmas of metaphysi- 
cal theology, from observing the convenience that 
might arise in the government of civil societies, 
from inculcating a more complete sanction of re- 
wards and punishments for actions in this life, by 
means of the dispensations in a life to come. Other 
causes also gave an universal preponderance to the 
theory of the human soul. It became, for the rea- 
sons above mentioned, not only a favourite doctrine 
with churchmen and statesmen, but the self delusi- 
ons among the vulgar, respecting supposed appear- 
ances after death, rendered it also a popular doctrine. 
Indeed, in every age, and in every country, the 
priesthood have found it so powerful an engine of 
influence over the minds of the people, and in too 
many cases, so fruitful a source of lucrative impos- 
ture, that its prevalence is not to be wondered at, 
wherever artificial theology has been engrafted on 
the simplicity of true religion, and supported by an 
established clergy. Of Popery, which yet remains 
the prevailing system of the christian world, it is 
doubtless the corner stone ; and even under every 
form of ignorant and idolatrous worship through- 

Metaphysics. 297 

out the globe, it is the main source of power and 
profit to that class of society, which regulates the re- 
ligious opinions, rites and ceremonies of the coun- 
try. Not that I would insinuate, that the belief of a 
separate soul, like some other opinions that might 
be mentioned, has been generally taught by profes- 
sors who disbelieve it ; for plausible arguments are 
not wanting, to give it that currency which it has so 
long received among the wisest and the best of men : 
nor that an established priesthood of any age or 
country, or of any religion, is a mere compound 
of fraud and imposture, for I well know that the 
wise and the good are abundant in this class of so- 
ciety, as well as in others. But even such men are 
liable to the common infirmities of human nature; 
they cannot be indifferent to their rank in society, 
or the means of their subsistence : it is not every 
college youth, that is able or willing to weigh " the 
difficulties and discouragements attending the stu- 
dy of the Scriptures," so forcibly pointed out in the 
melancholy pamphlet of Bishop Hare : nor is it 
every professor of Christianity, who doubts of the 
doctrines he has undertaken to teach, that has forti- 
tude enough to follow the noble example of Theo- 


298 Appendix, No. 2. 

philus Lindsey, and John Disney. Hence we may 
take for granted, that those opinions will be admit- 
ted the most readily, and enforced the most willing- 
ly, which contribute to the influence of that order, 
which the professors have been induced by choice, 
or compelled by necessity, to wed for life. Choice 
indeed, at least that kind of choice, which depends 
on a well-grounded conviction of the object chosen 
being the means of superior usefulness, has little to 
do in this business. For though the clergy of the 
church of England severally declare that they are 
moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them the 
clerical character, is there one among them in the 
present day (Bishop Horsely perhaps excepted) who 
would venture to defend this declaration in the sense 
originally intended ? It is a fact notorious, that the 
candidates for holy orders, regard the profession of 
Divinity as they would that of Physic or Law, a fair 
and reputable means of gaining a livelihood, by per- 
forming those duties which are considered as neces r 
sary to the well being of society. It is a fact toe*, 
equally notorious, that wherever theological opini- 
ons (like that of the human soul) have been fit and 
liable to be made subservient to the temporal pro- 

Metaphysics. 299 

fit or influence of the clergy, that use has been so 
made of them by the ambitious and designing part of 
the profession, and the rights of the people have been 
encroached upon, to serve the interest of the Hier- 
archy. Nor is it the established clergy alone that 
some of the preceding remarks will apply to : 
much bigotry among the clergy of the dissenting 
interest, may fairly be ascribed to similar causes, 
though by no means operating in the same degree. 

But important as this doctrine is to the clerical or- 
der in political societies, some latitude of doubt and 
even of denial, has been conceded in England to the 
known friends and adherents of the established sys- 
tem in that country. This is the more to be won- 
dered at, as they have generally considered a disso. 
nance of opinion among their own order, more fatal 
to the common interest, than the attacks of their a- 
vowed enemies. Thus, more notice was taken of 
the Arian heterodoxy of Dr. Clarke, than of the a- 
vowed infidelity of Collins, Tindal, Toland, Cow- 
ard, and other writers of that class, who published 
about the same period. 

The learned Mr. Henry Dodwell as he is usually 
called, and who is a pregnant instance that learning 


300 Appendix, No. 2. 

does not always persuade good sense to inhabit the 
same abode, took great pains to shew that the soul 
was naturally mortal, but might be immortalized by 
those who had the gift of conferring on it this preci- 
ous attribute. This power he ascribed to the 
Bishops. Dodwell, though he would not at first join 
the establishment, changed his opinion and his con- 
duct in thisrespect afterward. Bishop Sherlock denied 
that the existence of the soul could be made evident 
from the light of nature, (Disc.2 p. 86. disc. 3 p. 114) 
Of the same opinion was Dr. Law who quotes him. 
Archbishop Tillotson declares (v. 12 serm. 2.) that 
he cannot find the doctrine of the immortality of the 
soul expressly delivered in scripture. Dr. Warbur- 
ton wrote his " Divine legation" to prove that Moses 
and the Jews neither believed in, nor knew of a future 
state. Dr. Law, afterward Bishop of Carlisle, in the 
appendix to the third edition of his " Considerations 
on the theory of religion," compleatly overthrow^ the 
whole doctrine of a separate soul as founded on the 
scripture, by a critical examination of every text 
usually adduced in its support. Dr. Watson the 
present Bishop of Landaff in the preface to his collec- 
tion of theological tracts dedicated to young divines 


Metaphysics. SOI 

for whose use it was compiled, expressly declares 
that the question respecting the materiality or imma- 
teriality of the human soul, ranks among those sub- 
jects on which the academicorum znoxn may be ad- 
mitted, Without injuring the foundations of religion. 
It should seem therefore, that it is not heterodoxy in 
mere speculative points of theology, that constitutes 
the sin against the holy Ghost with ' an established 
clergy, but heterodoxy on the subject of church au- 
thority and the grand alliance. It is in this spirit that 
the then Archdeacon of St. Albans, Dr. Horsely com- 
plains of Dr. Priestley's history of the corruptions 
of Christianity. " You will easily conjecture (says 
" the Archdeacon in his animadversions on that work 
" p. 5) what has led me to these reflections, is the 
** extraordinary attempt which has lately been made 
" to unsettle the faith and break up the constitution of 
* l every ecclesiastical establishment in Christendom* 
'* Such is the avowed object of a recent publication 
" which bears the title of a history of the corruptions 
" of Christianity, among which the catholic doctrine 
" of the trinity holds a principal place." 

This is an unfortunate exposure of the cloven foot 
of Hierarchy* It was not the wish to detect error or 


302 Appendix, No. 2. 

to establish truth — it was not from anxiety to fix up- 
on a firm footing, some great and leading principle of 
Christianity — it was not the benevolent design of com- 
municating useful information on a litigated topic of 
speculative theology — it was not the meek and gen- 
tle spirit of sincere and patient enquiry that dictated 
those animadversions — all these motives would not 
only have borne with patience, but would have wel- 
comed and exulted in a temperate discussion of un- 
settled opinions, before the tribunal of the public ; 
fcr by such discussions alone, can the cause of truth 
be permanently and essentially promoted. No : 
these were not the motives that influenced the Arch- 
deacon of St. Albans. It was the nefarious and un- 
pardonable attempt to unsettle the faith of established 
creeds ; however founded that faith might be, on ig- 
norance or prejudice, on pardonable misapprehen- 
sion, or culpable misrepresentation, on fallacy, on 
falsehood, or on fraud. These " Animadversions," 
proceeded from the morbid irritability of an expectant 
ecclesiastic ; from a prudent and a prescient indul- 
gence of the esprit de corps ; from a dread too per- 
haps, lest the tottering structure of church establish- 
ment, with all its envied accompaniments of sees and 


Metaphysics. 303 

benefices, of deaconries and archdeaconries, and ca- 
nonries, and prebendaries, and all the pomp and pride 
of artificial rank, and all the pleasures of temporal 
authority, and lucrative sinecure connected with it, 
might be too rudely shaken by sectarian attacks. 
But enough for the present, respecting these learned 
labours of the Archdeacon of St. Albans ; which 
like those of Archdeacon Travis may well be consi- 
dered as having sufficiently answered the main pur- 
pose of their respective authors, in spite of the wick- 
ed replies of Priestley and Porson. Let us say with 
the public, requiescant in pace. 

To return however to the more immediate subject 
of the present section. Hobbes seems to have been 
the first writer of repute (in England at least) who 
denied the doctrine of an immaterial and naturally im- 
mortal soul. This was a necessary consequence of his 
faith being apparently confined to corporeal existence, 
an opinion deducible in fact from the old maxim of 
the antients and of the schools, nil unquam fuit in 
Intellectn, quod non prius erat in Sensu. Hob- 
bes's Leviathan was published about 1650 or 1651. 
Spinosa who published after Hobbes was rather an 
Atheist than a Materialist, a character to whieh 


304 Appendix, No. 2. 

though Hobbes's opinions might lead, he does not 
assume. In 1678 Blount sent forward to the public 
his " Anlma Mundi, or an historical narration of the 
" opinions of the antients concerning man's soul after 
this life according to unenlightened nature," which 
met with much opposition and some persecution ; 
as was likely, for it is by no means destitute of 

In 1702 appeared a book entitled " second 
" thoughts concerning the human soul, demonstrat- 
" ing the notion of a human soul as believed to be a 
11 spiritual and immortal substance united to a hu- 
" man, to be an invention of the heathens and not 
" consonant to the principles of philosophy, reason, 
" or religion by E. P. or Estibius Philalethes." 
" The year following a supplement was published 
"entitled " Farther Thoughts, &x." The author 
preoccupies a path subsequently taken by Dr. 
Law and Dr. Priestley, and endeavours to shew 
at length that the notion of an immaterial, im- 
mortal soul, is not countenanced by the texts of scrip- 
ture usually adduced in favour of that opinion. 
These texts he criticises individually with a reference 
to the original words used. The author appears in 


Metaphysics. 305 

the character of a sincere christian. A second editi- 
on of this book was published 1704. In 1706 Mr. 
Dodwell before mentioned, a learned and laborious 
but weak man, and bigotted to the hierarchy, pub- 
lished his " Epistolary discourse proving from the 
" scriptures and the first fathers that the soul is a 
" principle naturally mortal, but immortalized actu- 
" ally by the pleasure of God, to punishment or re- 
" ward ; by its union with the divine baptismal spi. 
" rit. Wherein is proved that none have the pow- 
" er of giving this divine immortalizing spirit since 
" the apostles, bat only the bishops." This gave 
rise to the controversy between Clarke and Collins on 
the immortality of the soul. Dod well's book was 
attacked by Chishull, Norris and Clarke. He repli- 
ed in three several publications, 1st. " A prelimi- 
" nary defence of the epistolary discourse concern- 
" ing the distinction between soul and spirit, 1707. 
" 2nd. The scripture account of the eternal rewards 
V or punishments of all that hear of the gospel, with- 
" out an immortality necessarily resulting from the 
" nature of souls themselves that are concerned in 
" those rewards and punishments, 1703. 3d. The 
*i natural mortality of human souls clearly demon- 

U "strated 

306 Appendix, No. 2. 

" stratcd from the holy scriptures and the concurrent 
" testimonies of the primitive writers. 1708. 

About this time Toland in his letters to Serena, 
(1704) gives an " Essay on the history of the soul's 
" immortality among the Heathens," deducing that 
doctrine from popular traditions supported by poeti- 
cal fictions, and at length adopted and defended 
among the philosophers. Concluding from hence, 
(preface) that divine authority was the surest anchor 
of our hope and the best if not the only demonstrati- 
on of the soul's immortality ; an indirect denial of 
the whole doctrine as coming from Toland, who was 
certainly no friend to Christianity and no believer in 
the divine authority of the scriptures. 

In the same year (1704) but somewhat previous to 
Toland, Dr. Coward had published his "Grand 
" Essay, or a vindication of reason and religion 
t: against impoltures of philosophy ; proving accord- 
" ing to those ideas and conceptions of things human 
" understanding is capable of forming itself. 1st. 
" That the existence of an immaterial substance is a 
«' phiio.ophic imposture and impossible to be con- 
" ctived. 2ndly That all matter has originally cre- 
" ated in it, a principle of internal or self motion. 

" Srdly 

Metaphysics. 307 

91 3rdly That matter and motion must be the foun- 
" dation of thought in men and brutes." Dodwell 
and Toland had learning enough and so had Blount 
to throw some light on the history of this question, 
and the author of second thoughts has many obser- 
vations well adapted to the question he discusses, but 
very little is to be gained from a perusal of Coward's 

Dr. Hartley's great work, (great, not from the 
bulk, but the importance of it) was first published 
in 1749. The direct and manifest tendency of the 
whole of his first volume is to destroy the common 
hypothesis of an immaterial soul : and this he does 
with a mass of fact and a force of reasoning: irresisti- 
ble. He shews clearly how all the faculties ascribed 
to the soul, thought, reflection, judgement, memo- 
ry, and all the passions selfish and benevolent, may- 
be resolved into one simple undeniable law of ani- 
mal Organization, without the necessity of any hy- 
pothesis Such as that of a separate soul. Yet he does 
not appear distinctly to have seen the full weight and 
tendency of his own reasoning, and he adopts a the- 
ory on the subject, loaded with more difficulties and 
absurdities, than even the common hypothesis. 

U2 In 

308 Appendix, Nc. i. 

In 1757 was published a philosophical and scrip-" 
tural inquiry into the nature and constitution u of 
" mankind considered only as rational beings, wherein 
" the antient opinion asserting the human soul to be 
" an immaterial, immortal and thinking substance 
"vis found to be quite false and erroneous, and the 
" true- nature state and manner of existence of the 
" power of thinking in mankind is evidently demon- 
'* strated by reason and the sacred scriptures." 
Authore J. R. M. I. Who this author really was 
I know not. Bu t from the perusal of his book it is 
probable that he was a physician, and had been tra- 
velling. The above work lie terms the philosophic 
or first part, and refers to a longer work of his, own 
in manuscript which it seems he could not procure 
to be published. -There is very little new in the 
book so far as I could judge. 

I do not recollect any other treatise relating to the 
subject that excited public attention in England. In 
France and Holland La Mettrie began the contro- 
versy by his Histoire naturelle de L' Ame, published 
at the Hague in 1745 as a translation from the 
English of Mr. Charp;* it is a book containing 

• This is probably one of the inumerable instances of the careless- 

Metaphysics. 309 

many forcible remarks, and did credit to the side of 
the question which La Mettrie had adopted. Soon 
after this La Mettrie published L'Homme machine 
which was burnt in Holland in 1748. This was an 
honour not due to the formidable character of the 
work itself, which though it contains some of the 
common arguments drawn from the physiology and 
pathology of the human system, is by no means of 
first rate merit. He whimsically attributes the 
fierceness of the English, to their eating their meat 
more raw than other nations. This book was trans- 
lated and published in London in 1750. . 


ness of French authors in quoting' English names. La Mettrie most 
likely meant to ascribe this to Mr. Sharp the Surgeon, with whose re. 
putation he must have been acquainted. I remember Arthur Young 
Esq. in one of his annals of agriculture complains that a paper of his 
translated into French was given to Artor Jionge«curer. Some years* 
ago Mr. Charles Taylor of Manchester (lately secretary tothe society 
of Arts in London) was requested by Lord Hawkesbury to mak« 
some experiments to ascertain the value of East India Indigo when 
compared with the Spanish. Mr. Taylor did ascertain that the for- 
mer yielded more colour for the same money at the current prices 
than the latter by above one fourth. In a paper I believe by M. 
D'ljonval these experiments are quoted in a note as made by Le 
Chevalier Charles Tadkos celebre manufacturier de Manchester. 


310 Appendix, No. 2. 

From Mr. Hallet's discoveries the last volume of 
which was published in 1736 Dr. Priestley has ex- 
tracted for himself and quoted what he deemed neces- 
sary on this question. I do not notice as part of the 
history of the question Materialism in England, the 
foreign atheistical publications, such as Le Systeme 
de la nature attributed to Mirabeau the father, Le 
vrai sens du Systeme de Vunhers a posthumous work 
ascribed to Helvetius, Le Bon Sens by Meslier, and 
others whose titles do not now occur to mc, because 
until within these few years, they were hardly known 
in England, and excited no discussion of the subject 
there, previous to the work of Dr. Priestley now un- 
der consideration. 

The Doctor himself says in his preface to the 
disquisitions on matter and spirit, first published in 
1777, that though he had entertained occasional 
doubts on the intimate union of two substances, so 
entirely heterogeneous as the Soul and the Body, 
the objections to the common hypothesis, did not 
impressively occur to him, until the publication of 
his treatise against the Scotch Doctors, which was in 
1774. Those doubts indeed could hardly avoid oc- 
curring' to any person who had carefully perused 


Metaphysics. 311 

Hartley's Essay on Man, first published in 1749, 
and Dr. Law's appendix before mentioned in 1755. 

Dr. Hartley has shewn with a weight of fact and 
argument amounting to demonstration, that all the 
phenomena of mind, may be accounted for from the 
known properties and laws of animal organization ; 
and notwithstanding, that for some reason or other 
he has so far accommodated his work to vulgar pre- 
judice, as to adopt the theory of a separate Soul, 
though in a very objectionable form, it is evidently a 
clog upon his system, and unnecessary to any part of 
his reasoning. Substitute Perception, and his 
theory is com pleat. Nor indeed is it possible to re- 
ject this. Constant concomitance is the sole foun- 
dation on which we build our inference of necessary 
connection : we have no evidence of the latter, but 
the former. Perception manifestly arises froir, and 
accompanies animal organization ; the facts are ol per- 
petual occurrence, and the proof from induction is 

Hartley having laid a sufficient foundation to 
conclude (as Dr. Priestley has] done) that the 
natural appearances of the human system might 
be iully explained by means of Perception and As- 

U 4 sociation 

*12 Appendix, No. 2. 

sociation, without the redundant introduction of the- 
common hypothesis, Dr. Law a few years afterward 
compleatly proved to the christian world that though 
Life and Immortality were brought to light by the 
christian dispensation, the common theory of a se- 
parate immaterial and immortal soul, was not neces- 
sary to, or countenanced by the christian doctrine. 
Dr. Law seems by his preface, to have been fearful 
of the consequences of expressing the whole of his 
©pinion on this abstruse subject, and confines him- 
self in his appendix to the examination of the passa- 
ges of Scripture usually referred to in favour of the 
Soul's immortality. This appendix I believe was 
first added to the third edition of his Considerations 
on the Theory of Religion, published in 1755. 

Against Dr. Priestley, any ground of popular 
obloquy would be eagerly laid hold of by the Bigots 
of the day. The doubts expressed in the examina- 
tion of Drs. Reid, Oswald, and Beattie, excited so 
much obloquy, as to render it necessary for Dr. 
R-iestley to review his opinions, and renounce or 
defend them. The result was, the disquisition on 
matter and spirit, the first volume containing a dis- 
cussion of the question of materialism, the second 
that of liberty and necessity. 


Metaphysics. 313 

In discussing the former hypothesis, Dr. Priest- 
ley denies not only the existence of spirit as having 
no relation to extension or space, but also the com- 
mon definition of matter, as a substance possessing 
only the inert properties of extension, and solidity 
or impenetrability. The latter he defines in con- 
formity with the more accurate observations of later 
physics, a substance possessing the property of ex- 
tension and the active powers of attraction and re- 
pulsion, With Boscovich and Mr. Michell, he 
admits of the penetrability of matter, and replies to 
the objections that may be drawn from this view of 
the subject. 

It must be acknowledged that highly curious as 
this preliminary disquisition is, it is not only unne- 
cessary to the main argument, but leaves the defini- 
tion of matter open to the question whether there be 
any substratum or subject in which the essential 
properties or powers of attracting and repelling in- 
here. That these powers really belong to matter, 
whatever else matter may be, is evident from the 
reflection of light, previous to contact with the re- 
flecting substance and its inflection afterward from 
the electric spark, visible along a suspended chain, 


514 Appendix, No. 2. 

from the phenomena of the metallic pyrometers, 
from the rain drop on a cabbage leaf, &c. And 
that matter is permeable, at least to light, is suffici- 
ently evident from every case of tranparency. Still 
however it cannot consist of properties alone ; a pro- 
perty must be the property of something. But the 
proper and direct train of argument in favour of 
materialism is, that every phenomenon from which 
the notion of a soul is deduced, is resolveable into 
some affection of the brain, perceived. That all 
thought, reflection, choice, judgment, memory, the 
passions and affections, &c. consist only of ideas 
or sensations, (i. e. motions within that organ) per- 
ceived at the time. Though, judgment, memorv, 
being words, denoting different kinds of internal 
perceptions, relating only to, and consisting of, ideas 
and sensations.* That sensations and ideas them- 

* A Sensation is an impression made by some external object on 
the Senses ; the motion thus excited is propagated along the appro- 
priate nerve, until it reaches the Sensory in the Brain, snd it is there 
and there only, felt or perceived. 

An Idea, is a motion in the Brain, excited there either by the laws 
of association to which that organ is subject, or by some accidental 


Metaphysics. 315 

selves, arise only in consequence of the impressi- 
ons of external objects on our senses, which impres. 
.sions are liable to be recalled afterward by the re- 
-currence of others with which they were originally 
associated, agreeably to the necessary and inevitable 
law of the animal system. That this is evident in 
as much as there can be no ideas peculiar to any of 
the senses where there is a want of the necessary 
bodily organ, as of hearing, sight, &c. inasmuch as 
all these ideas commence with the body, grow with 
its growth, and decrease with its decline. That 
they can be suspended, altered, destroyed, by artifi- 
cial means, by accident, by disease. That all these 
properties of mind, viz. thought, judgment, memory, 
passions, and affections, are as evident in brutes as 
in men ; and though the degree be different, it is al- 
ways accompanied with a proportionate difference 
of organization. That perception is clearly the re- 
sult of organization, being always found with it, 
and never without it : as clearly so in other animals 


state of the system in general, or that organ in particular, without the 
intervention of an impression on the Senses ab extra as the cause of it» 
Such a motion being- similar to a sensation formerly excited, and be- 
ing- also felt or perceived is the correspondent Idea. 

316 Appendix No. 2. 

as in the human species ; and probably in vegeta*- 
bles though in a still lower degree.* That as all 
the common phenomena of mind, can be accounted 
for from the known facts of organized matter with- 
out the souls, and as none of them can possibly be 
attributed to the soul without the body, there is np 
necessity to jpecur to any gratuitous theory in additi- 
on to the visible corporeal frame. That the doc- 
trine of the soul originated in ignorance, and has 
been supported by imposture; that it involves gross* 
contradictions and insuperable difficulties, and is no 
more countenanced by true religion than by true 

All this has been shewn with great force of argu- 
ment and ingenuity by Dr. Priestley in these disqui- 
sitions, to which it may safely be affirmed nothing 
,like a satisfactory answer has yet been given, or is 
ever likely to be given. True metaplrysics, like 
every other branch of philosophy can only be found- 

* Dr. Percival, Dr. Bell in the Manchester Transactions, and Jix. 
Watson in the last volume of his essays, have made this opinion highly 
probable. Many additional observations are to be found in Dr. Dar> 
win's works. I consider it as a theory established. 

Metaphysics. 317 

<*d on an accurate observation of facts, and as these 
become gradually substituted for mere names, our 
real knowledge will improve. It is to physiology 
perhaps that the question of the materiality of the 
human soul, and even that of liberty and necessity 
will owe the compleatest elucidation. Until medi- 
cal writers brought into view the facts relating to 
animal life, the metaphysical disquisitions on these 
subjects were involved in an endless confusion of 
words without precise meaning, and almost always 
, including in their definition a petitio principii. In- 
deed we are not yet fully apprized either in Law, 
Physic or Divinity any more than in Metaphysics, 
•that the species intelligibiles of the old schoolmen, and 
4he whole class of abstract ideas of the new school- 
men with Locke at their head, are not things, but 
names. They are not even either sensations or 
ideas ; they are words, convenient indeed for classi- 
fication, and used artificially like the signs of Alge- 
bra, but they have no archetype. This is a subject 
which will probably be better understood ere long 
by the labours of Mr. HorneTooke. 

Dr. Priestley therefore considered the question of 
a future state,' as now rested on the basis which to 

a chris- 

318 Appendix, No. 2. 

a christian is or ought to be perfectly satisfactory ; on 
the promises and declarations of our Saviour, exem- 
plified by his own resurrection from the dead. In- 
deed the circumstances of the whole question of fu- 
turity depending on the truth of the christian scrip- 
tures and on them alone, is calculated to give them 
a peculiar and inestimable value in the eyes of those 
who look forward with anxious hope* to a continued 


* There are some persons who do not seem to entertain this anxious 
hope. Mr. Gray the poet seems an instance, from the following pas- 
sage in his ode Barbaras J&ics aditure mecum (Letters V. 2 p. 44} 
though I do not recollect that the sentiment has been noticed before. 
Oh ego felix, vice si (nee unquam 
Surgerem rursus) simili cadentem 
Parca me lenis sineret quieto 
Fallere Letho. 
Multa flagranti radiisque cincto 
Integris, ah quam nihil inTiderem, 
Cum Dei ardentes medius quadriga» 
Sentit Olympus ! 
I wonder whether Gray ever perused the following lines written" 
by his friend and Biographer the Revd: Mr. Mason. 
Is this the Bitot's rant ? Away ye vain V 
Your hopes your feurs, in doubt, in dulntsajsteep * 
Go sooth your souls in sickness, grief, or pain. 

With *he sad solace of, eternal sleep. 


Metaphysics. 319 

and more perfect state of existence after death. Noi* 
is it of any consequence to the christian, that the 
manner how this will be effected is not plainly reveal- 
ed ; for it is sufficient that the Being who first gave 
animation to the human frame, will at his own time 
and in his own manner for the wisest and best of 
purposes, again exert the same act of almighty pow- 
er in favour of the human race, and in fulfillment of 
his promise through Jesus Christ. Such at least 


Yet know ye Sceptics, know, the Almighty mind 

Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire, 

Bad his free soul by earth nor time confin'd 

To heav'n, to immortality aspire. 

Nor shall the pile of hope his mercy rear'd, 

By vain philosophy be e'er destroy'd ; 

Eternity ! by all or wish'd or fear'd, 

Shall be by all, or sufTer'd or enjoy'd. 

It is still more singular that Dr. Beattie with all his professions of 
Christianity, should not have been aware of the atheistical complexion 
of the following passage in his " Hermit." 

Nor yet for the ravage of winter I mourn, 

Kind nature the embryo blossom shall save ; 

But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn! 

Oh, when shall it dawn on the night of the grave ! 

320 Appendix, No. 2. 

was the view of the subject habitually entertained by 
our author. 

Indeed, the natural evidences of a future state were 
never conceived by any reasonable defender of the 
doctrine, to be of themselves satisfactory and conclu- 
sive.* They were neverdeemedof more value than to 
produce a probable expectation of a state of future re- 
wards and punishments, and they are certainly con- 
tradicted by the known facts relating to the origin, 
the growth, and decline of the human faculties. 
Bishop Porteus has collected these arguments, and 
stated them with as much force as his moderate abi- 
lities would permit ; but by far the best summary of 
what has been urged on this as well as on almost 
every important question of morals and metaphysics, 
will be found in Mr. Belsham's Elements of the 
Philosophy of Mind. An excellent compendium, 
by a gentleman, to whom next to Mr. Lindsey, Dr. 


* Dr. Priestley in his observations on the increase of infidelity pub- 
lished at Northumberland, has a passage which would seem to inti- 
mate that a future state might be clearly made out by the light of na- 
ture (p. 59, 60) but this is certainly inadvertency, and by no means 
conformable to his constant, deliberate, sentiments on that subject as 
expressed particularly in his Institutes. 

Metaphysics. 321 

Priestley appears to have been more attached than to 
any other. 

The second part of the Disquisitions on Matter 
and Spirit, contains a discussion of the long contest- 
ed and confused question of Liberty and Necessity. 

Dr. Priestley is right in his opinion that this ques- 
tion was not understood by the ancients, nor per- 
haps before the time of Hobbes. Long ago it ap- 
peared to me, that the only writer among the school- 
men who had touched upon it, was Bradwardine in 
his Book De causa Dei, which I regret that I have 
no opportunity of consulting here. Many of his ob- 
servations are extracted by Toplady in his treatise on 
Liberty and Necessity, and in his life of Zanchius ; 
but Toplady like Edwards, did not completely un- 
derstand the question ; they connected the doctrine 
of necessity with all the bigotry of Calvinism. 

Hobbes in his Leviathan, and in his reply to 
Bramhall on liberty and necessity in his Tripos, first 
truly stated the subject, and shewed that the question 
was, not whether we can do what we will, but whe- 
ther the will itself, (i. e. choice, preference, inclina- 
tion, desire, aversion,) is not inevitably determined 
by motives not in the power or controul of the agent. 

V Hartley's 

322 Appendix, No. 2. 

Hartley's book, however, shews, or rather leads to 
the conclusion, that these motives are twofold, ab extra 
and ab intra. The action depending on the com- 
pound force of the motives ab extra, and the physical 
state of the animal organs at the moment. For the 
latter is frequently of itself an immediate cause of vo- 
luntary action. 

But previous to Dr. Hartley's great work, the 
question of liberty and necessity had been discussed 
between Collins and Clark, and Clark and Leibnitz.* 
Collins's Philosophical inquiry into human liberty, 
first published in 1715 was the only book on the 
subject worth reading between the times of Hobbes 
and Hartley, and a masterly and decisive work it is. 
This appears to have been translated and repeatedly 
printed on the continent; Dr. Priestley, who re- 
published it in London, mentioning a second edition 
in 1756 at Paris, and a third edition when he was 


* I do not find thr;t the controversy about the Soul occasioned by 
the publications of Blount, Coward, Dodwell, &c. involved the ques- 
tion of Liberty and Necessity, though they touch so nearly. It escap- 
ed me a few pages back, that Dr. Coward, was also the author of 
" Second Thoughts concerning the human Soul." (Estibias Psycale 
thes) as well as of the Grand Essay. 

Metaphysics. 323 

there in 1774. The controversy was kept alive in 
Collins's life time by Leibnitz ; but he like Dr. Ed- 
wards who afterwards wrote in defence of the same 
side of the question in his treatise on Free will, was 
too much given to expand his ideas, and obscure the 
sense by the multiplicity of words which he used to 
express it. The letters of Theodicee contain many 
passages well conceived, but the book is insupporta- 
bly tedious. Hobbes could condense more argument 
and information in a page, than would serve Leibnitz 
for a volume. 

To this treatise of Collins, plainly and popularly 
written, no sufficient answer was or could be given. 
It must have satisfied the mind of every reader capa- 
ble of understanding the question, though it omitted 
to notice many objections which were afterwards ta- 
ken up and fully answered by Dr. Priestley. Col- 
lins in his preface takes pains to have it understood 
that he writes in defence of moral necessity only, and 
not of physical necessity. A distinction without a 
difference, though taken by all who have succeeded 

I do not dwell on the controversy between Jack- 
son on the one side in defence of human liberty, and 
V 2 Gordon 

324 Appendix, No. 2. 

Gordon and Trenchard in Cato's letters, because lit- 
tle was added to the sum of knowledge, on either 
side. Jackson had learning and industry, but he did 
not understand the question, and had no pretensions 
to that species of distinguishing acuteness, so neces- 
sary to a good metaphysician. 

Dr. Priestley, following the enlarged and cheering 
views of the future happiness of all mankind, first 
connected by Hartley with this question, shews com- 
pletely that the doctrine under consideration has no- 
thing to do with the strict calvinistic hypothesis. 
That it is sufficiently conformable to popular opini- 
on. That it is the only practical doctrine which in fact 
is, or indeed can be acted upon with respect to the 
application of reasoning and argument, reward and 
punishment. That the formation of character and 
disposition, the actual inferences we make from, and 
the dependence we place upon them, rest entirely on 
the truth of this opinion. That from the nature of 
cause and effect, every volition must be the necessary 
result of previous circumstances. That the scientia 
contlngentium, the great and insuperable difficulty of 
God's pretended foreknowledge of uncertain events, 
can on no other hypothesis be avoided, and that the 


Metaphysics. 325 

doctrine of necessity is perfectly consistent with the 
great plan of divine benevolence, in the present state, 
and future destination, of the human race. 

These subjects called forth remarks by Dr. Price, 
Mr. Palmer, Mr. Bryant, Dr. Kenrick, Mr. White- 
head, Dr. Horseley and others;* to all of whom, an- 
wers were given by Dr. Priestley. 

The controversy with Dr. Price is a pleasing spe- 
cimen of the manner in which an important subject 
can be amicably discussed between two friends, and 
made interesting too, by the manner as well as the 
matter, without any thing of that " seasoning of 
controversy" which Dr.Horsely afterward thought so 
necessary to keep alive the public attention, and vv hich 
he strews over his polemics with so unsparing a hand. 
The Bishop had not yet however adopted that stile of 
arrogance by which he has since been so disgraceful- 
ly distinguished ; and it is to be regretted for the 
sake of his own character as a gentleman and as a wri- 
ter, that he adopted it at all. Dr. Horsely should 
recollect, that those who emulate the insolence of 
Warburton ought at least to give proofs of equal 
learning and acuteness ; and that bigotry and intole- 
rance in defence of opinions which, though a man may 
V 3- profess 

326 Appenmx No. 2. 

profess to believe, he can hardly profess to under- 
stand, will do no credit to his religious, his moral, 
or his literary character in the present state of know- 
ledge. But character as a writer, may be a seconda- 
ry consideration, to one who is determined to verify 
the saying, that godliness is great gain.* 

It has been a misfortune to this question, that it 
has seldom been treated by persons who knew any 
thing of the organization or physiology of the human 
frame ; and that it has been complicated with all the 
prejudice arising from the theological tenets of those 
who opposed the doctrine of necessity. Every phy- 
sician knows, though metaphysicians know little 
about it, that the laws which govern the animal ma- 
chine, are as certain and invariable as those which 
guide the planetary system, and are as little within the 

controu 1 

* Dr. Horseley's polemic strictures on Dr. Priestley's writings, ex- 
hibit a singular compound of insolence and absurdity. But he is con- 
tented, I presume, if he rises in the church, as he sinks in reputation. 
Some of his opinions are truly diverting-- His theory of divine genera- 
tion by the Father contemplating his own perfections, and his grave sug- 
gestion of the three persons of the Godhead meeting together in con- 
sultation, stand a fair chance of being noticed by some wicked wit, who 
may wish to expose the infirmities, of orthodoxy real or pretended 

Metaphysics. 327 

controul of the human being who is subject to them. 
Every sensation therefore, and every idea dependent 
on, or resulting from the state of the sensory, is the 
necessary effect of the laws of organization by which 
that state was produced. But wc neither have nor 
can have any sensation or any idea, but what is so de- 
pendent, or but what thus results ; for we can neither 
feel nor think without the brain. The words we use 
for the Phenomena termed mental, are mere terms of 
classification and arrangement of the sensations and 
ideas thus produced, and their combinations. Hence 
it follows, that all these phenomena depend on the laws 
which regulate the animal system, and are the necessa- 
ry, inevitable result of those laws. The obscurity 
which has enveloped this question, has arisen from 
want of due attention to. that state of mind (or rather 
of bodv) which we call, the will ; and from the pow- 
er that animals seem to have over the voluntary mus- 
cles. But every Physiologist knows that the state of 
the system which calls into action the voluntary 
muscles, that is, a state of want, desire or inclinati- 
on, whether to act or to abstain, is the result of previ- 
ous circumstances to which the animal is exposed ; 
and the action of the voluntary muscles, is equally 

V4 the 

328 Appendix, No. 2. 

the result of necessary laws, as those of the involun- 

The great object of terror to the Divines in this 
question about Necessity, was the coftsequence re- 
sulting, that God is the author of Sin. Many and 
subtile were the distinctions made upon this subject 
by the necessarian theologists among the schoolmen, 
and down to the middle of the seventeenth century. 
Richard Baxter the peace-maker, in his Christian 
Directory, his Catholic Theologie and some other 
works, has briefly reviewed them all, and as usual 
distinguished upon them so acutely, that what was 
not quite clear before, he has most effectually obscur- 
ed. The prevailing opinion, however, seems to have 
been, not that God permitted the sinful act (for the 
reply was unanswerable, that God must be consider- 
ed, as willing that which he does not prevent when 
he can,) but that God, in the common course of na- 
ture as pre-ordained by him, permitted the action it- 
self to come to pass, but not the intention or quo ani- 
mo of the actor, in which the sin consists ; or as Gale 
expresses it in the quaint language of the time, it is 
" God's pre-determinate concurse to the entitative 



Metaphysics. 329 

Indeed, I do not see with the orthodox notions 
then prevalent, how it was possible on the hypo- 
thesis of God's foreknowing and pre-ordaining ail- 
that comes to pass, to avoid considering God Al- 
mighty as the author of Sin ; and to feel repugnance 
toward a system, which makes the deity inflict eter- 
nal punishment on a creature, whose actions he might 
have controuled, and whose existence he could have 
prevented. Such manifest injustice might be view- 
ed without horror, by the brutal bigotry of Calvin, 
but the tenets that drew after them such a conse- 
quence, could not be adopted without hesitation and 
regret, by any, but the most thorough going, unfeel- 
ing zealot. 

Oriven's doctrine of Universal Restitution, was 

o ' 

first advanced in England (so far as I know) by Rust, 
Bishop of Dromore, and Jeremy White, who I be- 
lieve had been Chaplain to Cromwell. Since that, the 
labours of Stonehouse,Petitpierre, Newton, Winches- 
ter, Chauncey and Simpson, have furnished ground 
enough for us to adopt it as the doctrine of scripture 
as well as of common sense. By connecting this 
doctrine with that of necessity, Dr. Hartley and Dr. 
Priestley have been enabled to give a full and satis- 

330 Appendix, No. 2. 

factory reply to all the objections that can be drawn 
from the theory of necessity, making God the author 
of Sin. Indeed, unless God's foreknowledge be de- 
nied, the same difficulty must occur on either scheme : 
for he has knowingly and voluntarily adopted a sys- 
tem, in which the existence of evil if not necessary, is 
at least undeniable. 

Granting the goodness of God, it follows accord- 
ing to Dr. Priestley, that he has adopted that system 
which is most conducive to general, and individual 
happiness upon the whole ; and that the moral evil 
of which for the best purposes he has permitted human 
creatures to be guilty, and the physical evil, which 
here or hereafter will be the inevitable consequence 
of that conduct, are necessary to produce the greatest 
sum of good to the system at large, and to each hu- 
man being individually, considering the situation in 
which he has been necessarily placed in respect to the 
whole system. Indeed, moral evil is of no farther 
consequence than as it produces physical evil to the 
agent, or to others. And as we see in the system of 
inanimate nature, that general good is the result of 
partial and temporary evil, and that though the one 
follows necessarily from general laws as the result 



of the other, the good manifestly predomninates, so 
in the moral system, we have a right from analogy to 
predict, that good will be the ultimate result of the 
apparent evil we observe in it : that we shall be the 
wiser for knowing what is to be avoided ; the better 
for corrected dispositions ; and that the power, and 
the wish to receive and communicate happiness, will 
be enlarged through each successive stage of our ex- 
istence, by the experience of those that have preced- 
ed. So at least thought Dr. Priestley. 

Leibnitz states some of these ideas with great 
force in the following passage, which I am tempted 
to transcribe entire from his Essais de Theodicle ; 
sur la Bonth de Dieu, la Berth de /' homme, et 
Vorigine du mal> first published in 1710. (Prem. 

partie Sec. 7, 8, 9.)* 


* Dim est la premiere Raison des chases : car celles qui sont bor- 
n^es, comme tout ce que nous voyons et experimentons, sontcontin- 
gentes, Sc n'ont rien en elles qui rende leur existence necessaire ,• 
atant manifeste que le terns, l'espace & la matiere unies & uniforme* 
en elles-mcmes, &. indifierentcs a tout, pouvoient recevoir de tout au- 
tres mouvemens & figures, Sedans un autre ordre. II faut done cher- 
chcr la raison de /' existence du monde, qui est l'assemblage enticr des 
cboses cor.tingentes : Sc il fautla chercher dans la substance qui porte la 


332 Aptendix, No. 2. 

According to this opinion of Leibnitz, the operative 
motive in the choice of the present system being the 
attribute of Benevolence in the Almighty, the exist- 

raison de son existence avec elle, Sc laquelle par consequent est necex- 
saire & tfterhelle: II faut aussi que cette cause soit intelUgente : car 
ce Monde qui existe 6tar.t contingent, &. une infinite d'autres Mondes 
etant <%alement possibles &. egalement pretendans a l'existence,. 
pour ainsi dire, aussi bien que !ui, il faut que la cause du monde ait 
eu egard ou relation a tous ces Mondes possibles pour en determiner 
un. Et cct £gard ou rapport d'une substance exwtante a de sim; \t* 
possibilites, ne peut etre autre chose que I'entendement qui en a les 
id£es ; & en determiner une, ne peut etre autre chose que l'acte 'le 
la volontC qui choisit. Et e'est la puissance de cette substance qui en 
rend la volonte efficace. La puissance va a I'etre, la sagesse ou Ten- 
tcnucment au vrai, & la volont^ au bien. Et cette cause intelligente 
doit etre infinie de toutes les manieres, & absolument parfaite en puis- 
sance, en sagesse & en 6ont6, puisqu'elle vaa tout ce qui est possible. 
Et coinftie tout est lie, il n'y a pas lieu d'en admettre plus d'une. Sen 
enlcndeincnt est la source des essences, & sa volonte est l'origine des 
exicianccs. Voili en pcu de mots la preuve d'un Dieu unique avec 
scs perfections, Sc par lui l'origine des choses. 

8. Or cette supreme sagesse jointe.a une bont^ qui n'est pas moins 
inonie qu'elle, n'apu manquer de choisir le meilleur. Car commc un 
moindre mal est une espece de bien ; de meme un moindre bien est 
une espece de mal, s'il fait obstacle a un bien plus grand : & il y au- 
roit quelque chose a con les actions de Dieu, s'il y avoit 

i de nueux fairs. El . as les MatiMmaliques, quand il 


Metaphysics. 335 

ence of all that we term evil, is with respect to him, and 
his preordination of it, good ; for the whole intention 
and motive of its permission is founded in perfect 


n'y a point de maximum, ni de minimum, rien enfin de distingue", tout 
se fait egr.lement ; ou quand cela ne se pcut, il ne sc fait ricn du tout ; 
©n peut dire de mime en matiere de parfaite sagesse, qui n'est pas 
moins regime que les Mathematiques, q" c »'il n'y avoit pas le meil- 
leur (optimum) parmi tous les Mondes possibles, Dieu n'en auroit pro- 
duit aucun. J'appelle Monde toute la suite Ec toute la collection de 
toutes les choses existantes, afln qu'on ne dise point que plusieurs 
Mondes pouvoient exister en differens temps 8c differens lieux. Car 
il faudroit les compter tous ensemble pour un Monde, ou si vous vou- 
lez pour un Univers. Et quand on rempiiroit tous les tems & tous les 
lieux ; il demeure toujours vrai qu'on les auroit pu remplir d'ime in- 
finite" de manieres, &. qu'il y a une infinite dc Mondes possibles, dont 
il faut que Dieu ait choisi le meilleur ; puisqu'il ne fait rien sans agir 
suivant la supreme Raison. 

9. Quelque adversaire ne pouvant repondre & cet argument, repon- 
dra peut-etre a la conclusion par un argument contraire, en diaant 
que le Monde auroit pu etre sans le peche & sans les souffranccs : 
mais je nie qu'alors il auroit etc meilleur. Car il faut savoir que tout 
est U€ danschacun des mondes'possibles : l'Univers, quel qu'il puisse 
*tre, est tout d'une piece, comme un Ocean ; le moindre mouve- 
flient y e"tend son effet a quelque distance que ce soit, quoique cet 
effet devienne moins sensible & proportion de la distance, de sorte que 
Dieu y a tout regie" par avance une fois pour toutes, ayant pvevu les 
prieres, lea bonnes & les mauvaUes actions, & tout le rest© ; & chaque 


334 Appendix, No. 2. 

goodness guided by perfect wisdom. With aspect 
to the finite beings, by whom evil is permitted to 
take place, there can be no doubt on this scheme, but 
the balance of existence will be happiness even to 
them, whenever by proper discipline they are fitted 
to enjoy it. Perhaps it may be doubted without in- 
fringing on the reverence due to the supreme dispo- 
ser of all events, whether it would be consistent with 
his justice, knowingly and voluntarily to bring into 
existence, a sentient being, destined to be perma- 
nently miserable. 

The question of Materialism, has been discussed 
since the disquisition of Dr. Priestley, by Mr. Coop- 
er, who adopts the same side. Dr. Ferriar of Man- 
chester, has rendered it dubious how far the sentient 
principle ought to be confined to the brain, though 
the facts he adduces, apply with equal force against 


chose a contribue idlalement avant son existence a la resolution qui a 
it6 prise sur 1 'existence de toutcs les choses. De sorte que rien ne 
peut etrc change dans l'Univers (non plus que dans un nombre) »auf 
son essence, ou si vous voulez, sauf son individuality numerique. Ain- 
si, si le moindre mal qui arrive dansle Monde y manquoit, ceneseroit 
plus ce Monde ; qui tout comptee, tout rabattu, a etc trouvci le meil- 
leurpar le Createur qui l'a choisi. 

Metaphysics. 335 

the common hypothesis of a separate soul, acting by 
means of the body. The doctrine of Necessity has 
been opposed by Dr. Gregory of Edinburgh, but 
with a weakness of argument, and a petulance of 
language, that places his work in the lowest rank 
among the writers who have adopted the same side 
of the question. It hardly deserved the notice of so 
good an advocate as Dr. Crombie, who has been the 
latest author on the subject. 

Indeed, the question must now be considered as 
settled ; for those who can resist Collins's philosophi- 
cal enquiry, the section of Dr. Hartley on the Me- 
chanism of the mind, and the review of the subject 
taken by Dr. Priestley and his opponents, are not to 
be reasoned with. Interest reipubtica ut denique sit 
finis litium, is a maxim of technical law. It will ap- 
ply equally to the republic of letters ; and the time 
seems to have arrived, when the separate existence of 
the human soul, the freedom of the will, and the eter* 
nal duration of future punishment, like the doctrines 
of the Trinity, and Transubstantiation, may be re- 
garded as no longer entitled to public discussion. 

It is for this reason that I have paid no attention to 
the hypothesis of the Scotch Doctors, Reid, Beattie 


336 Appendix, No. 2. 

and Oswald, and have given no detailed account of 
Dr. Priestley's examination of their writings. In. 
deed the perfect oblivion into which these writers 
have fallen, and the utter insufficiency of such 
young gentlemen and lady's philosophy as they have 
adopted, has secured them from further animadver- 
sion. The facility with which ignorance can refer 
all difficulties relating to the phenomena of mind, to 
instinctive principles and common sense, might an- 
swer the purpose of popular declamation for a while, 
but it could not last ; and these writers have fallen 
into merited obscurity, notwithstanding the national 
prejudice in favour of each other, so prevalent among 
the Literati of North Britain. 

Some passages in Dr. Reid, however ought to 
exempt him from the contempt which is due to the 
common system advanced by him and his coadju- 
tors : and his last bock on the Active powers of man, 
is a work of undeniable merit on a very important 
subject, which has not yet been discussed with half 
the labour it so eminently deserves. The Synthesis 
and Analysis of our ideas, the history and process of 
their formation, and the detail of facts attending and 
connected with their rise and progress, is compara- 

Metaphysics. 33$ 

lively a new subject. Des Cartes, Buffier and 
Condillac among the French, Locke, Berkeley 
and Hartley among the English, and Hume, 
Reid, and Adam Smith among the Scotch, are 
almost the only authors worth notice who have 
treated it expressly, and most of them only partial- 
ly.* Something may be found to the purpose in 
Hobbes, and in the first part of Dr. Priestley's ex- 
amination of Reid, Oswald and Beattie, and more 
in the first volume of Zoonomia, § 14 and 15.f 
The common sense of Dr. Reid and Co. seems to have 
been employed as the davis universalis on this sub- 
ject by Bu flier, in his "First Truths." Hutcheson's 
theory of the Moral Sense hardly merits notice, nor 
does that of Dr. Price promise to add much to the 
stock of real knowledge. We have had enough {sal 
superque) of occult principles, innate principles, and 


* Dr. Dugal Stewart in Scotland, and the Revd. Mr. Belsham in Eng- 
land, have published Elements of the Philosophy of the mind, the first 
inclining to the Scotch School of Metaphysics, the latter to the System 
ef Hartley ; both of them of merit in their way, particularly (as I think) 
that of Mr. Belsham. 

f I cannot help thinking Dr. Darwin's obligation! to Dr. Hartley 
and Dr. Brown ought to have dictated more acknowledgement thwi 
he has condescended to make. 


334 Appendix, No. 2. 

instinctive principles, which illustrate nothing, but 
the ignorance of those who employ them. 

For my own part, I am persuaded that no Theory 
of the mind can be satisfactory, which is not found- 
ed on the history of the Body. I know of no 
legitimate passport to Metaphysics but Physio- 
logy. Hence I cannot estimate highly the writ- 
ings of the Scotch Metaphysicians. There is one other 
feature also common to this School, which satisfies 
me of their incompetence to this subject; their slight 
notice, and ambiguous approbation of a man so su- 
perior as Dr. Hartley, and their utter ignorance or 
neglect of the theory he has advanced. On every 
subject relating to the phenomena of mind, Dr. 
Hartley's book must be adopted as the ground work 
of the reasoning, or his principles must be previ- 
ously and distinctly confuted.* 


* Dr. Reid in Ins last work has given a critique on Dr. Hartley's 
theory without understanding it, or even touching on the important 
points. That theory in suhstancc is this : an external object (a peach 
for instance) makes an impression at once, on our organs of feeling, 
of sight, and of taste. The impression thus made on the extreme end 
ef the appropriate nerve, is propagated by sonic species of motion along 


Metaphysics* 335 

The Metaphysics of the present day require also, 
a more accurate attention to the Theory of Grammar 
than has hitherto been paid by writers on the sub- 

the course of the nerve up to the brain, and there, and there only, per- 
ceived ; for if the nerve be cut, or tied, or palsied, in any part of its 
course, the impression is not perceived. Motion* in the brain thus 
produced, and perceived, are sensation •" similar motions arising, or 
produced without the in^-ession of an external object, are idea*. 
These impression* Being in the instance given, simultaneous or nearly 
so are associated, so that the sensation produced bv the sight of a 
peach, will give rise to motions in the brain similar to those produced 
at fii st by the taste and the touch of it : i . e . it will suggest the ideas of 
taste and touch, and excite the inclination to reach and to eat the ob- 
ject of them. Hence sensations, ideas, and muscular motions are as- 
sociated together and mutually suggest and give rise to each other. 
What species of motion it is, with which the nervous system is affect- 
ed in this process, or whether Sir Isaac Newton's JEihtv, or its modern 
substitute the electric fluid, has any thing to do with it or not, is no es- 
sential part of the theory, and may be adopted or rejected without 
prejudice to the main system. Some kind of motion there manifestly 
is ; I think it demonttrable that it is vibratory ; but of whatever kind 
it be its existence in the brain is unquestionable ; and the association 
and catenation of individual motions in the brain according to certain 
laws, is equally so. This is matter of fact, and it was Dr. Reid's 
business if he could, to shew that neither the motions, the percepti- 
ons, or the associations took place in that organ. The general law is 
expressed by Hartley Prop. 20. Cor. 7. 


536 Appendix, No. 2. 

ject. Perhaps I do not assert too much in saying 
that we have had no grammarians worth notice, none 
who have thrown light on the principles of Gram- 
mar, but Locke and Home Tooke. What dread- 
ful confusion has arisen from treating words denot- 
ing what are called abstract ideas, as if they were the 
exponents of real individual existence ? Whereas 
they are merely signs of artificial classification with- 
out any individual archetype. For instance in rela- 
tion to the present subject, what volumes of labour- 
ed and learned trifling have been written on flic Will, 
the Judgment, the Understanding and the other fa- 
culties as they are called, of the soul ! Yet nothing 
is more certain than that the will, the judgment, the 
understanding, &c. have no existence: they ars 
words only, the counters employed in reasoning, 
convenient signs of arrangement, like the plus the 
minus and the unknown quantity in Algebra, but 
no more. The time however is approaching, when 
Metaphysics will take rank among the Sciences that 
lay claim, if not to absolute demonstration, yet to an 
approximation to certainty sufficient for all the pur- 
poses of ethical reasoning, and all the practical du- 
ties of human life. 






from the top, 







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— — 


pecs i nit t 


nee sinit. 


bottom line, 


No. 6, 


No 4. 































For wall, 




3 from the bottom 


















8 f r 

om the bottom 

after, the Author, 


Dr Coward. 



from the top 






7 from the top of the note 

for dise, 





from the top 

for is,